The French education minister has imposed a ban on students, prohibiting them from wearing abayas in state-run schools. The ban will be imposed from the next academic year starting September 4.

France has always prohibited religious manifestations in state schools and government spaces as they “violate secular laws”.

Ban on abayas has been implemented after months of debate over the attire worn in schools.


Education Minister Gabriel Attal, while talking to France’s TF1 TV, said: “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them,

“I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools.”

With an increasing number of students wearing abayas, the political divide has widened as the right-wing parties are pressing for a ban while the left-wing is advocating for the rights of Muslim women and girls.

“Secularism means the freedom to emancipate oneself through school,” added Attal. He believes that abaya is “a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute.”

France implemented a strict ban on religious signs in schools back in the 19th Century which included Christian symbols like large crosses. The purpose was to eliminate any Catholic influence on public education. Now that people from other religions have a significant presence in French society, the laws have been updated and are targeted at the Muslim headscarf and Jewish kippa.

France first imposed a ban on headscarf in state-run schools in 2004 while full face veils were banned in public in 2010.