After a year, the headscarf ban is judged a success in curbing jihadist sentiments. This article doesn’t explain how officials arrived at this conclusion. Certainly everyone looks more French inside the schools, and that is a powerful visual impression, but has it been accompanied by an abandonment of jihadist teaching in the mosques? From the TimesOnline, with thanks to Scaramouche:
FATHIMA stood outside her lycÃ©e chatting and joking with friends. She paused briefly to lift a long, beige scarf off her head and then walked into the playground “” an excited teenager back in class after the two-month French summer holidays.
Yet a year ago here, at the LycÃ©e Henri Wallon in Aubervilliers, north of Paris, the mood was very different.
France’s centre-Right Government had passed a law banning religious symbols from schools and girls such as Fathima were at the centre of a fierce national controversy.
The law applies to all visible symbols, including kippas, turbans and large Christian crosses. But no one ever had any doubt about its main target “” the Muslim headscarf that was the focus of a long and bitter struggle between Islamic extremists and the secular state.
At the LycÃ©e Henri Wallon, where Alma and Lila Levy were expelled for refusing to remove their scarves, the debate was heated. Most teachers backed the law on the ground, hoping that it would end a drift towards multiculturalism that was separating pupils along ethnic and religious lines.
But leaders of France’s five million Muslims denounced it as an attack on religious freedom and parents expressed fears that children would be driven out of school because of “a bit of cloth on their heads”.
Twelve months on, the row has subsided and the law is being hailed by the Government as a success that has stemmed the Islamic fundamentalist tide and brought calm to the nation’s lycÃ©es.
Fathima, who is 16, agrees. “In the end I really don’t think it was a bad law at all. I wear my voile until I get to the school gates and then I take it off. School is not a place for religion. It is a place where we are all French and we are all equal. After lessons, I put the scarf back on again. There’s no difficulty.”