UN Criticizes French Decision to Ban Abayas in Schools

New York, MINA – Spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Marta Hurtado criticized France’s decision to ban women from wearing abayas (loose black dresses) at school.

On Sunday, French Education Minister Gabriel Attack told local TV channel TF1 that wearing abayas was no longer allowed in schools.

Hurtado said the UN agency was unable to comment in detail given the lack of information regarding the French decision and plans for its implementation. However, it should be remembered that according to international human rights standards, restrictions on manifestations of religion or belief, including the choice of clothing, are only permitted in very limited circumstances, such as public safety, public order, health or morals.

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“In addition, based on international human rights law, actions taken in the name of public order must be appropriate, necessary and proportional,” Hurtado said as quoted by Middle East Monitor on Thursday.

“The next point is that achieving gender equality requires understanding the barriers that prevent women and girls from making free choices, and creating an environment that supports their own decision-making, including but not limited to clothing choices,” she added.

Last week, the French Ministry of Education published a report on allegations of increasing violations of secularism in schools.

The report stated that violations of secularism had increased by 150 percent in recent years with both boys and girls wearing dresses similar to abayas and tunics, which the ministry said contravened a secularism law passed in 2004 that banned religious symbols. at school.

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France considers the abaya, a long dress worn by some Muslim women, to be a “religious symbol.” Headscarves – hijabs – Jewish skullcaps – kippahs – and large crosses are already banned in French schools. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)