PARIS – The French education minister has triggered a new raw after saying that Muslim mothers should be banned from wearing hijab when they drop off or pick up their children from school.
“A parent should be banned from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, namely the Islamic headscarf, when escorting their child to and from school,” Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Sunday, The Express reported.
He told RTL radio: “My personal opinion is that anyone who accompanies a child to and from school should be considered a ‘public service worker,’ which means they have a duty to conform to social codes.”
Questioned whether these statements mean banning Muslim mothers from wearing hijab to the school, the minister said he was doing this out of his respect for the law.
“I respect French law and it is not my place to make sweeping statements about this issue. But we must play by the rules, and the rules must be the same for everyone,” he claimed.
It is not the first time mothers’ hijab in France has come into focus.
In December 2013, the State Council – France’s supreme administrative court – ruled that parents bringing their children to and from school could not be considered “voluntary public service workers” and did not have the same “duty of religious neutrality” as school teachers.
The ruling contradicts a previous decision made in March 2012 by then-education minister Luc Chatel to ban parents from wearing ostentatious religious symbols when doing the school run.
In July 2016, French president Emmanuel Macron – then economy minister in François Hollande’s socialist government – said he was “against” introducing a new law banning parents from wearing religious symbols when escorting their children to and from school.