Chirac Rule on Headscarf French Muslims Concerned
Muslims in France Await with Great Concern Chirac's Ruling on Headscarf
France on Wednesday is waiting for the announcement of its President Jacques Chirac on whether he favors or opposes a law banning Islamic headscarves and other religious symbols in public schools and institutions.
Observers expect Chirac will ban the scarf. Many says this would play down France's guarantee of religious freedom in a country with five million Muslim as Islam is the second religion in France. Muslim girls wonder why is so much attention given to them wearing the hijab.
They are only practicing their religious conviction and hurting no one. Student Sabrina Jaoud said, "I don't think the headscarf bothers anyone. Well, all the students here are in favour (of the headscarf).
Apparently, it bothers the school administration, the teachers but not the students. It does not bother the students. I think it is a shame because wearing the headscarf does not stop a girl from learning at school. I think everybody has their own religion and we have to respect that."
Chirac decision comes after the Stasi commission published a report last week advocating the passing of a law banning ostentatious signs, such as headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and large crucifixes at schools. Small pendants like the Star of David would be permitted.
The French Muslim Council has already expressed its opposition to a new law believing that, "the proposed terms ... seem most discriminatory toward Islam."
Rector of the Mosque of Paris Dalil Boubakeur said, "The CFCM, French Council of the Muslim Faith, regrets that the Stasi commission presents a new vision of secularism which reduces the guarantee of religious freedoms prescribed by the law in favour of the simple respect of spiritual diversity."
France has long debated the issue, but it took on new urgency in the past two years with dozens of girls expelled from school for refusing to remove their veils. Until now, the only policy on head scarves in schools came from the Council of State, France's highest administrative body, which has said they can be banned if they are of an "ostentatious character," a judgment left to each school.
Headscarves are already forbidden for people working in the public sector, but that rule - which is not a law - is occasionally broken.
A Muslim employee of the city of Paris was recently suspended for refusing to take off her scarf or shake men's hands. France has the largest Muslim community in Western Europe, estimated at five million, and Islam is the nation's second religion, after Roman Catholicism.
This problem extend to other European countries such as Germany in which after much debate Germany’s supreme court ruled this year that sixteen states could decide for themselves whether to ban teachers from wearing headscarves in school. Chthonic Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg now prevent teachers from wearing headscarves.
But in an district of Berlin, where 200,000 people of Turkish origin live, wearing the scarf is a common picture.
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