Report: French Education Ministry to Forbid Religious Clothing at Public Schools

In this 2015 file photo, French soldiers patrol next to a Jewish school, in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

The director general of the French Education Ministry issued a series of regulations that will be implemented next year in public schools across the country, including the prohibition on wearing a kippah or a long skirt.

A report in the Le Figaro newspaper said that a draft circular by the director general of the French Ministry of Education for the coming school year includes a series of guidelines designed to determine the secular line of schools in France.

According to the directives, which were aimed first and foremost at the Muslim students and indirectly affecting Jewish students as well, a number of regulations will be enacted, including forbidding girls to wear long skirts on a regular basis, and prohibiting the wearing of a kippah or a hat, a wig or a handkerchief on a regular basis. Head coverings will be allowed only as a fashionable item, and not as a permanent garment for religious reasons.

In the name of secularism, wearing a headscarf, or hijab, has been illegal in French public schools since 2004. Face-covering niqabs and burqas have been banned in public spaces since 2010.

Students will also not be allowed to pray at school, in groups or even by themselves.

According to the report, the directive is a guide to students on issues dealing with the interface between religious practices and the secular atmosphere of French schools.

The circular also stated that Muslim students would not be able to miss sports lessons during the month of Ramadan.

With regard to the enforcement of these “secular laws,” it was reported that “the penalties imposed on students in the event of noncompliance with the instructions are clearly presented in the manual, which is more practical than the previous one, and presents about 20 concrete situations of application of the principle of secularism.”

Jews in France noted ironically that while in Israel the powers that be are up in arms over the so-called “religious coercion,” the education system in France is going in the direction of secular coercion.

It should be noted that regulations are only on public schools, not on private schools which don’t receive full government funding. Many French Jewish children still learn in the public school system, but these new rules will presumably cause many families to transfer their children to the private Jewish schools.