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Islamic Lifestyle

France to ban abayas in state-run schools

Female students will not be allowed to wear abayas in state-run schools across France, the country's education minister has announced.

The directive will be enforced with the beginning of the new academic year on September 4. An abaya is a full-length loose-fitting robe worn by Muslim women. 

"I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools," Gabriel Attal, education minister, told France's TF1 TV.

"When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn't be able to identify the pupils' religion just by looking at them." 

Attal added that he would sketch out clear rules at the national level before schools reopen next month.

The move comes after months of debates over the wearing of abayas in French schools, which have already banned Islamic headscarves since 2004. 

"Secularism means the freedom to emancipate oneself through school," Attal noted, describing the abaya as "a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute."

In 2011, France imposed a ban on full-face veils in public places, becoming the first European country to do so.