French Education Minister Gabriel Attal announced on Sunday that France will ban the Islamic garment known as the abaya in schools.
“The school of the Republic was built around strong values, secularism is one of them. … When you enter a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the religion of pupils,” Attal said in an interview with French TV channel TF1.
“I announce that [pupils] will no longer be able to wear abaya at school,” he said.
The abaya is a long, flowing dress commonly worn by Muslim women as it complies with Islamic beliefs on modest dress — but it’s also worn by other communities in North Africa and the Middle East. In 2004, France banned religious symbols in schools, including large crosses, Jewish kippahs and Islamic headscarves. But the abaya occupies a gray zone and hasn’t specifically been banned.
Attal, who was appointed in July, announced that he would lead talks in the coming weeks before issuing new “clear nationwide rules” for schools.