Following the announcement by the Minister of National Education, Mr. Gabriel Attal, of his intention to ban the wearing of the “abaya” at school, the CFCM was asked by certain media to express its position.
The CFCM has already expressed, in its press release of June 11, 2023, its position on this garment, wrongly qualified by some as Muslim religious.
The CFCM recalls, first of all, that the school is a sanctuary of knowledge and knowledge and not a place of proselytism, of any kind whatsoever.
It reaffirms that religious practice, whatever it is, is not a product of exhibition or an object of publicity, nor a banner or a slogan of demonstrations. It must lead the person who practices it to a form of serenity and inner peace, far from any form of ostentation.
The CFCM, which is not intended to defend the wearing of any particular item of clothing, has the imperative duty to refute any erroneous link between the wearing of clothing and Muslim religious practice. He also has the duty to fight against any form of discrimination directed in particular against a person, because of his adhesion or real or supposed to the Muslim religion.
This is why he therefore reaffirms, in accordance with his press release of June 11, 2023, that the “abaya” is not a religious garment. No referential text of Islam mentions it.
In the name of Secularism and the principle of separation of Religions and the State, the CFCM disputes a fortiori that a secular authority can define what would or would not be religious instead of the religious authorities of a cult, whatever he be.
Although, for the CFCM, this clothing is not religious, it is rightly asked to intervene on this issue, because the risks of stigmatization and discrimination for young girls “presumed to be Muslim” are very high.
Indeed, it is clear that:
– that there is no clear definition and objective criteria anywhere concerning the “abaya”: this term of Arabic origin refers only to a long dress or coat which can take various and varied forms;
– that some young girls sometimes choose to wear long dresses at school, and that these could include young Muslim girls, as well as non-Muslim girls.
The CFCM therefore fears that in the absence of a real definition, the abaya will not be defined according to objective criteria (which do not exist) but in a purely arbitrary way, according to the “PROFILE” of the girls. and of the women who wear it, of their supposed origin and religiosity, which would be an extremely serious, dangerous and discriminatory precedent.
Unless we purely and simply prohibit the wearing of any long dress at school and by everyone, pupils and teachers included, regardless of whether or not they belong to a religion, it will be impossible to apply a measure specifically aimed at abaya, without falling into the trap of discrimination and arbitrariness.
The CFCM calls for living together in the deepest respect for the values of the Republic, including equal treatment, and calls for pure respect for secularism. The law of March 2004, which regulates the wearing of religious symbols in schools, must be respected.
At the same time, it must not be diverted from its objective to give rise to a clothing policy contrary to the letter of the 1905 law and its spirit, as recalled by its rapporteur, Aristide Briand. The response of the latter to the deputy Chabert on the plan to ban the cassock in public space, on June 26, 1905, takes on its full meaning today.
The French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM)
Paris, August 28, 2023