I think the ban isn't quite as broad as you make it sound Amazing ...
Heres a news story on it ..
|France to Debate Bill Banning Head Scarves || |
By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer
PARIS - French lawmakers will take up the challenge of integrating Muslims into society starting from the head down, debating a bill Tuesday banning Islamic head scarves in public schools.
Showing just how important the legislation is to the government, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will open debate on the bill banning "conspicuous" religious symbols from classrooms.
The measure also bans Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses from public schools, but French authorities have made clear it is aimed at Muslim head coverings.
The ban is intended to be a vehicle for guaranteeing respect for France's secular foundations, which ensure a strict separation of church and state in the public domain.
However, President Jacques Chirac has made clear that the bill also is meant to keep France's Muslim population from forcing its traditions onto French society rather than assimilating.
There is growing concern that Muslims are not integrating ? a concern magnified by fears of a rise in Muslim fundamentalism.
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe ? an estimated 5 million ? and Islam is the second-most popular religion in this mainly Roman Catholic country.
"To do nothing would be irresponsible," Chirac told his Cabinet last week. "It would be a fault."
The government hopes the law will be enforced when the new school year starts in September. A vote tentatively has been scheduled for Feb. 10.
Some Muslims call the bill discriminatory. It has prompted demonstrations by Muslims in France and around the world, with another planned in France for Saturday.
Muslims who follow a strict interpretation of Islam consider the head scarf ? which covers hair, ears and neck ? obligatory for women.
The debate over wearing it in public school dates to at least 1989, when two girls defied school rules in Creil, outside Paris, and refused to remove their scarves.
Most, but not all, public schools already have guidelines forbidding head coverings. However, schools have been left to decide themselves whether to take action against those flouting the rules.
The bill would not apply to private schools or to French schools in other countries. It calls for sanctions ranging from a warning to a temporary suspension to an expulsion.
The governing party is unhappy with some aspects of the current bill and believes it should be amended to emphasize mediation when the law is broken.
"It is not a law firstly of interdiction. It is a law of dissuasion," Jacques Barrot, the head of Chirac's UMP party in the National Assembly, the lower house, said recently.
Despite dissent, the bill is all but assured passage, as Chirac's party holds 364 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, and a bill needs only 288 votes to pass. Some 140 deputies ? or nearly a quarter of lawmakers ? have signed up to comment on the bill.
Chirac agreed to proceed with legislation at the recommendation of a presidential commission that spent six months studying the state of secularism in France.
However, several commission members were quoted Monday by the newspaper Le Monde as saying they were unhappy with the bill because it omits numerous recommendations they considered crucial.
Historian Rene Remond was quoted as saying that the commission's work was shortened into a brief bill emphasizing the forbidden rather than addressing the real issues.
"There is tension over an ultra-minority problem when the real challenge is social and professional integration," Remond was quoted as saying.