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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2008, 12:35 
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French Muslim girls lose veil case at court

Europe's human rights court has thrown out a complaint by two French Muslim girls who were expelled from their school for refusing to remove their headscarves during sports lessons.

France, which takes secularism in state schools very seriously, passed a law in 2004 banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at school after a decade of bitter debate about Muslim girls wearing headscarves in class.

"The court observed that the purpose of the restriction on the applicants' right to manifest their religious convictions was to adhere to the requirements of secularism in state schools," the European Court of Human Rights said.

The two girls were 11 and 12 when they were expelled in 1999. After French courts ruled against them, they complained to the European court that their school had violated their freedom of religion and their right to an education.

The court, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, rejected both complaints by a unanimous ruling of seven judges.

It said the school had done its best to balance the interests of the girls with respect for France's secular model, and their expulsion was a consequence of their refusal to respect rules of which they had been properly informed.

It also said they had been able to continue their education by correspondence classes.

The French veil debate divided a nation torn between its deep attachment to secularism and the need to accommodate Europe's largest Muslim minority. It also raised questions about how the influence of Islam was changing Europe.

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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 09:57 
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I can see where a scarf would be considered "conspicuous" but does the ban also apply to religious jewelry? Like, if someone wore a cross necklace or a pentacle ring? What if you had a religious tattoo that was difficult to conceal? Would you be kicked out of school?

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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 10:22 
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I'm confused--- I didn't think that :

Quote:
had violated their freedom of religion and their right to an education.


existed in Europe.

(as backwards as we are in socialized medicine, socialized education has been around for a long time here...)

Could a non-muslim wear a scarf to school?

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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 10:55 
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jess wrote:
I'm confused--- I didn't think that :

Quote:
had violated their freedom of religion and their right to an education.


existed in Europe.

(as backwards as we are in socialized medicine, socialized education has been around for a long time here...)

Could a non-muslim wear a scarf to school?


I was kinda wondering about that part too. What if it became quite fashionable to wear head-scarves?

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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 11:15 
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The ban does not apply specifically to muslim headscarves. It applies to all outward signs of religion, including Jewish skullcaps, Sikh turbans, crosses, etc. I don't know about tattoos, but I imagine that, if they fell foul of the law, the person would be obliged to cover them up.

There is no doubt that it is controversial, but at the time when it became law about two-thirds of muslim women in France were in favour of it. Without it, many more would be coerced into wearing headscarves.

In many ways France is far more seriously secular than the USA, because it has a long history of struggles against the RC church. I have taken part in demonstrations in support of the Law of 1905. :soapbox:


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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 11:27 
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I should have added that in most UK schools, kids wear uniform and you can be chucked out quite quickly for refusing to wear the uniform. Some schools have an approved islamic version of the uniform. There was a case in the last year or two concerning a girl whose family felt the muslim uniform was insufficiently strict and who wanted her to wear something more all-enveloping. The muslim headmistress of the school refused to allow any variation and the case went up through the courts. In the end the courts found in favour of the school.


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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 11:36 
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Some people want everything their way.

Conforming to the dictates of the society you live in is inevitable. Even while I can sympathize to an extent with the conflict this brings to those who feel they have to wear particular apparel. Societies rules, by & large, were made to protect the society as a whole, not a sub-section or individual. It's the price you pay.

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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 12:58 
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It's often viewed as being about the freedom to wear headscarves, but it's really at least as much about the freedom not to wear headscarves. There is no doubt that a large number of muslims girls are coerced by the men in their family into wearing scarves. If you can read French, you might be interested in this movement, whihc campaigns for the rights and dignity of muslim women. There is a wiki article on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ni_putes_ni_soumises


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PostPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 15:15 
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Thank you so much for your input, DMB!

I had thought it was Muslim centered...

In a way, I do see this as a way to protect the individual... It's not an across the board, no scarves, it seems to be a no in school*--- which would make the children more uniform and more likely to judge each other on themselves than their religion? I dunno. I'm all for school uniforms, and would vote for one in my son's school (close to 80% of the public schools in our area have gone uniform).

*It seems to allow the children to be on even ground while they are still minors and are obligated to openly display their parents' religions...

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