The proposed French law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols in public schools was initially interpreted to include Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses. Those were the three items singled out last month in a speech by President Jacques Chirac and in a report by a blue-ribbon commission on religion and the state.

Then the issue of the turbans worn by Sikhs was raised, as France’s tiny Sikh community protested that its boys would quit school before removing their turbans.

On Tuesday, Luc Ferry, the minister of national education, went even further than Mr. Chirac, telling the National Assembly’s legal affairs committee that any girl’s bandanna that is considered a religious sign (as opposed to a fashion statement, presumably) will now be banned.

During the two-hour debate on the proposed ban, lawmakers wanted to know why the draft law was worded to ban “ostensibly” religious symbols and not everything that is “visibly” religious…

When one deputy asked about beards, Mr. Ferry said that even they might be a no-no, Reuters reported. “As soon as it becomes a religious sign, it would fall under this law,” Mr. Ferry was quoted as saying. Beards are required for Sikhs; some Muslim and Jewish men grow beards as a display of religious commitment…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.