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Veil ban may extend to 'religious' beards

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David Traynier

Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 112
Location: Colchester, UK

Post Post subject: Veil ban may extend to 'religious' beards Reply with quote

I'm all for discouraging Muslim women from having beards but....

Veil ban may extend to 'religious' beards

Jon Henley
Wednesday January 21, 2004
The Guardian

A furore in France over a bill to ban Islamic veils in schools deepened last night, when the government suggested that other headwear, and even beards, could also be prohibited if they bore a religious connotation.
Luc Ferry, the education minister, said that beards worn by pupils and bandannas favoured by some girls as an alternative to the traditional headscarf would be taboo if deemed "religious".

He said the government was determined to ensure that the ban, which has already drawn stringent protests from France's Muslim community, could not be "circumvented" by new religious symbols.

"As soon as anything becomes a religious sign, it will fall under this law," he told MPs when asked if beards would be penalised.

He said the bill, which is due to be debated by parliament next week, banned "signs and clothes that conspicuously manifest a religious affiliation". So far officials have said this means Islamic veils, Jewish skullcaps and outsized Christian crosses.

The ban, aimed at defending the secular nature of the French republic and its education system, has met with incomprehension abroad and bitter criticism at home.

Pope John Paul II weighed into the debate last week with a warning about what he considered excessive secularism in some European countries.

France's 5 million Muslims, who have staged angry protest marches against the bill in recent days, say they feel stigmatised by the ban. Catholic and Jewish leaders also oppose it. Many MPs in President Jacques Chirac's party, the UMP, fear that it will make racial and religious tension worse and hinder rather than help the integration of Muslim immigrants.
Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:24 am
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