France Denies Access to Students Wearing Abayas in Schools


At least 67 students have been denied access to schools after they refused to remove their abayas following France’s controversial ban on baggy and modest clothing.

Refusal to Comply

Despite a dress ban worn by women in several Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African countries, about 300 girls showed up in an abaya on Monday morning, Education Minister Gabriel Attal told local television on Tuesday.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Most agreed to change clothes, but 67 refused and were sent home, he said, adding: “I don’t want to be able to tell students’ religion in schools by looking at their clothes.”

Reasons for the Ban

The government announced a controversial ban on the abaya in schools last month, saying it violated France’s strict style of secularism, also known as “laicite”, which already bans Muslim headscarves.

Mixed Reactions

The decision to ban the abaya drew criticism and ridicule from human rights activists and religious minority groups, but was met with applause from French conservatives.

Political Motives

The left has accused the government of centrist President Emmanuel Macron of trying to use the abaya ban to compete with the far-right Rally Nationale Marine Le Pen and move further to the right.

Opposition to the Ban

Clementine Autin, an MP for the far-left party France Insoumise, criticized what she called the “clothes police” and the move “characteristic of obsessive anti-Muslims.”

Abaya as Fashion

Abdallah Zekri, vice chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), expressed a similar view, saying that Attal’s decision was wrong. “The abaya is not a religious garment, it is a kind of fashion,” he told BFM TV.

President Macron’s Stance

Meanwhile, President Macron, who backed last week’s decision to ban the abaya and kameez, a form of men’s ankle-length shirt, said in an interview on Monday that unique clothing, such as a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, could be worn in schools.

Backlash against the Government

The controversial move sparked backlash against the government, which has been criticized in recent years for its harassment of Muslims with its statements and policies, including raids on mosques and charitable foundations, and for an “anti-separatism” law that imposes broad restrictions on the community.

Legal Appeal

Earlier Friday, Vincent Brengart, a lawyer for Action for Muslim Rights (ADM), told X that they were appealing the ban to the Council of State for violating “several fundamental freedoms.” The French Supreme Court was due to begin hearing the case on Tuesday afternoon.

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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