Muslim girl shaves head over ban

A 15-year-old French Muslim girl has beaten the ban on Islamic headscarves in schools by shaving her head.

Cennet Doganay was banned from classes for wearing a headscarf – as it went against the new law banning religious signs in schools, introduced this term.

At school on Friday she said: “I will respect both French law and Muslim law by taking off what I have on my head and not showing my hair.”

The Hijab

“Hijab is the modern name for the practice of dressing modestly, which all practicing Muslims past the age of puberty are instructed to do in their holy book, the Qur’an. No precise dress code for men or women is set out in the Qur’an, and various Islamic scholars have interpreted the meaning of hijab in different ways.”

Many Muslims believe modesty requires women to cover their hair in public.

The issue of wearing the hijab – as the traditional headscarf is called by Muslims – has sparked controversy across Europe, with states taking different approaches.

France decided to ban all religious symbols in state schools, including large Christian crucifxes, Sikh turbans and Jewish skullcaps.

As the law was introduced in September, schools were told not to automatically exclude pupils who arrived wearing headscarves, but to try and avert a showdown through dialogue.


Cennet, whose family is of Turkish origin, had only been allowed into the study room at her school in Strasbourg since early September, as they negotiated her return to class without a headscarf.

With her newly-shaven look, she was allowed into school on Friday.

She told journalists waiting outside: “I respect the law but the law doesn’t respect me.”

Her mother said Cennet had tried everything “a beret, a bandana – but they still refused to let her into class”.

“She has been traumatised since the start of term. But all she wanted to do was go to school like everyone else,” she told French news agency AFP.

Reports say about 120 schoolgirls across France insisted on keeping their headscarves at the start of term, but most have since given in under threat of expulsion.

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Oct. 3, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday October 4, 2004.
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