French Headscarf Ban Not Discrimination, Says European Court

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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.
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– Source: Muslim girls lose veil case at court, Reuters via Stuff.co.nz, Dec. 5, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

French Headscarf Ban Not Discrimination, Says European Court

Europe’s top courts have ruled in favor of a French school that expelled two Muslim girls for refusing to remove their headscarves for physical education classes. The ruling fuels the debate over secularism in France.

The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed a complaint by two French Muslim girls that their school violated their freedom of religion and their right to an education. The girls were expelled after repeatedly refusing to remove their headscarves for physical education classes.

The teacher had said that wearing a headscarf was incompatible with physical education classes. The girls, Belgin Dogru and Esma-Nur Kervanci, are French nationals and were 11 and 12 respectively when they were expelled from the school in the north-western town of Flers in 1999.

Based in Strasbourg, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday, Dec. 4 that the school’s move to expel the girls was not out of line, emphasizing that the girls had been able to continue their education via correspondence classes.
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France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim minority.

– Source: French Headscarf Ban Not Discrimination, Says European Court, Deutsche Welle (Germany), Dec. 5, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Nov. 21, 2013