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School Excursion hijab Battle Ignites new secularism row in France

A fresh row on secularism and the wearing of the Islamic hijab in public buildings has erupted in France following a far-right politician requested a girl accompanying her son and other kids on a school excursion to remove her headscarf.

The issue has split citizens and politicians in a nation which often struggles with finding a balance between human spiritual freedom and constitutionally-guaranteed secularism from the public sector, such as colleges.

Julien Odoul, a part of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party, caused widespread outrage when he published a movie on Twitter of him facing a girl who followed students last Friday into the regional parliament at Bourgogne-Franche-Comte in southern France.

Citing”imperial principles” in the aftermath of the killings at Paris this month of four police employees with a radicalized convert into Islam, ” he insisted that the girl, whose son was one of the bunch, remove her headscarf.

Members of this RN then walked from the room before issuing a media statement denouncing”an Islamist provocation”.

But most, such as regional parliament speaker Marie-Guite Dufay, criticized Odoul’s activities, saying neither the regulation of the nation nor the principles of this room banned a part of the public sporting a headscarf.


Together with the RN playing the problem, the controversy has exposed divisions within the centrist ruling party of President Emmanuel Macron that’s keenly conscious Marine Le Pen’s faction is its main political foe.

The country’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer appeared unable to select a side, stressing Sunday that”the legislation doesn’t prohibit girls wearing headscarves to accompany kids”, while stating”that the headscarf itself isn’t desired in our society” due to”what it states concerning the status of girls, exactly what it says about our values.”

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye also weighed in, saying it was essential to permit space for exchanges involving girls who wear headscarves and people who don’t, as this encouraged”inclusivity”.

However, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire came into the defense of”a culture where faith remains from the romantic, personal world and doesn’t have a location in (the) public world.”

And Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin added: “I’d prefer that girls in the Republic, in France, don’t wear a headscarf.”

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament that he was about any sort of new law specifically targeting exactly what ought to be worn on school excursions.

The controversy is the hottest in France over face and body-covering clothes which many perceive as improper at a royal country while some assert the clothes allow Muslim girls to become active participants in early society.

The French church and state were formally separated by legislation in 1905 to provide form to the idea of secularism rooted from the 1789 French Revolution.

Back in 2004, the authorities banned the wearing of biblical religions symbols in public schools and banned the hijab — a garment that covers a woman’s hair but leaves her face vulnerable from classrooms and government offices.

The nation with Europe’s biggest Muslim population can be deeply divided within the body-concealing”burkini” swimsuit, together with resistance to the garment forcing the closing of a pool pool before this season in the middle of a heatwave.

An opinion poll published on Monday found both in three French men and women are in favor of forbidding parents accompanying children on school excursions from wearing visible religious symbols.

France doesn’t formally collect information on religious affiliation but is thought to have a Muslim population of just below 10 percent.

A study published in September from the IFOP polling group found that over half of Muslim men questioned said that they moved into the mosque each Friday, in contrast to approximately one in five girls.

The upper house of parliament, the Senate, will examine the matter as soon as next week, even using a committee examining a draft legislation trying to”make sure the religious neutrality of all individuals who contribute to the general support of instruction “