The Veil en France

From Reuters via

STRASBOURG, France, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Europe’s human rights court on Thursday threw out a complaint by two French Muslim girls who were expelled from their school for refusing to remove their headscarves during sports lessons.

France, which takes secularism in state schools very seriously, passed a law in 2004 banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at school after a decade of bitter debate about Muslim girls wearing headscarves in class.

“The court observed that the purpose of the restriction on the applicants’ right to manifest their religious convictions was to adhere to the requirements of secularism in state schools,” the European Court of Human Rights said.

The two girls were 11 and 12 when they were expelled in 1999. After French courts ruled against them, they complained to the European court that their school had violated their freedom of religion and their right to an education.

The court, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, rejected both complaints by a unanimous ruling of seven judges.

It said the school had done its best to balance the interests of the girls with respect for France’s secular model, and their expulsion was a consequence of their refusal to respect rules of which they had been properly informed.

It also said they had been able to continue their education by correspondence classes.

The French veil debate divided a nation torn between its deep attachment to secularism and the need to accommodate Europe’s largest Muslim minority. It also raised questions about how the influence of Islam was changing Europe.

(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac and Estelle Shirbon)  

© 2008 Reuters

3 thoughts on “The Veil en France

  1. It ironic because my percpetions about secularism were that apart from “the state shall have no religion” it also included the promotion “equal respect amongst all religions”.

    Any idea where I can read this judgment from ?

    • For what it’s worth, here’s a link to the decisioin at the European Court of Human Rights:

      But really, it doesn’t say much. Just that the French authority made the rule while attempting to balance secular vs. religious rights and the Court didn’t feel it appropriate to replace the thinking of the authority. I find this very difficult, but I would tend toward having more sympathy for those who wish to wear the veil. I think the problem is that the veil has come to be seen as a political as well as or instead of a religious statement. So the French are saying women/girls can’t make a political statement by the wearing of the veil and have thus attempted to sidestep the issue of religious freedom. I do have trouble with that as I’m not sure it’s accurate or, I don’t see how you could know why a particular individual was wearing the veil. I don’t think this would happen in Canada, but I can’t be sure.

  2. I dont think it would happen in Canada either… more so.. am actually studying law in India.. in canada for like 6 months…

    There would be huge riots in India.. because even though we are secular .. the constitution at the same time guarantees the right to religion and propogation of religion so as not to harm others.
    thanks for the link,… will read it for sure

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