French scarf ban comes
A law banning Islamic headscarves
and other religious symbols from French state schools came into effect
on Thursday, the first day of term.
So far, most pupils have been
observing the law by removing the headscarf or other symbols before
French education authorities with a
large Arab population were on high alert on Thursday. Teams of mediators
were on hand to intervene in any dispute.
Schools have been told not to
automatically exclude pupils who arrive wearing headscarves, but to try
and avert a showdown through dialogue.
The law, which affects 12 million
children, calls for a period of dialogue, although Education Minister
Francois Fillon has stressed that there is no room for negotiations.
"There is no question today of
excluding. It is a question of convincing," he said.
As classes opened, one Muslim girl in
the working-class Paris suburb of Aubervilliers said she had left her
headscarf at home.
The ban is not only affecting
Muslims. Sikhs argue that their turbans are not religious symbols.
Young Sikh Ranjit, 15, went to the
Jean-Rostand school in the Parisian suburb of Villepinte on Thursday
morning to get his new timetable, wearing a thin strip of material on
his hair rather than his customary turban, AFP news agency reports.
2 September, 2004
Source: BBC News