• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French back a ban on religious symbols at work
Muslim women march in Lyon in 2004. A law banning religious symbols in public schools, passed that year, may soon be extended to private businesses. Photo: Phillipe Ksiazek/AFP

French back a ban on religious symbols at work

Dan MacGuill · 25 Mar 2013, 12:31

Published: 25 Mar 2013 12:31 GMT+01:00

In recent days a new front has been opened up in the age-old debate about secularism in France - namely the wearing of the Islamic veil and other religious symbols in the workplace.

Two opinion polls published in recent days reveal the French are very much in favour of introducing a ban.

A whopping majority - 84% - of the French people now oppose the wearing of the Islamic veil or headscarf in private workplaces frequented by members of the public, according to a poll published on Sunday by regional daily Ouest-France.

Furthermore, 86% would support a law banning all religious symbols from any workplace centred on children, such as a school or crèche, according to a survey published on Monday by the Parisien.

The same poll found that 83% would be in favour of outlawing religious clothing or symbols in all private businesses.

The surveys were conducted in the aftermath of a landmark ruling by the Cour de cassation (Court of final appeal) on March 19th, which quashed the sacking of a nursery school assistant who had been fired for refusing to remove her Islamic veil.

Although the public as a whole would seemingly be onside, religious groups and other rights groups would no doubt protest against the ban.

"A new law is not necessary. In France there is an obsessive fear over Islam which is trying to reawaken in the aftermath of  this ruling," sociologist Michel Wieviorka told Le Parisien on Monday.

"With the municipal elections just months away it is the National Front who will benefit from this ongoing debate."

Since 2004, it has been illegal to wear or display conspicuous religious garments or symbols – such as crucifixes, Islamic headscarfs, or Jewish Kippah's – in France’s state schools, but government ministers have suggested in recent days that the law could soon be adapted to apply even to private workplaces.

Speaking after the court of appeals ruling that the BabyLoup creche's sacking of Fatima Afif represented discrimination on religious grounds, government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said ministers would consider imposing legislation to uphold the principle of secularism in private work places.

Story continues below…

Opposition to wearing the veil in private workplaces comes from all sides of the political spectrum, according to Sunday’s Ouest-France survey, which was conducted last week in the aftermath of the ‘Baby Loup’ ruling.

The fiercest opposition comes from supporters of the far-right National Front (98%), though 92% of supporters of the centre-right opposition UMP also disapprove of the Islamic headscarf.

Though slightly less extreme, a significant majority of Socialist party supporters, 77%, also oppose the Muslim veil and headscarf in private businesses.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French mayors dismiss suspended burqini ban
Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet /AFP

The row over France’s burqini ban continues with several mayors vowing to keep restrictions in place despite the country’s top court suspending the ban in the resort town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

France's top court suspends burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court has suspended a town's ban on wearing the full-body burqini swimsuit.

Milk price raised, but French farmers still unhappy
The sign on the tractor reads 'We're dying', as farmers blocked Lactalis dairy headquarters. Photo: AFP

Milk prices have been raised by France's biggest dairy group to placate farmers, but unions say their demands have not been met.

Burqini bans 'dividing France's Muslim women'
Photo: AFP

The burqini bans have divided France, but they have also left Muslim women in France in two groups, argues a professor who has spent years studying the impact of the burqa.

Pizza-delivery drones could be on their way to France
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your pizza. Photo: AFP

No more need to deal with grumpy French waiters...

Heatwave drags on as France faces red-hot weekend
Photo: AFP

France will see searing temperatures on Friday and Saturday, as the heatwave warnings have been extended (once again).

Nice: The French capital of burqini fines
The beach in the Riviera city of Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

It's one of only two of the 30 towns with a burqini ban in place to have actually given out any fines.

How to make France's famed Île Flottante dessert
Photo: Paul Oatway

France-based food blogger Laura Tobin shares her recipe for this delicious French dessert.

France's top court set to rule on burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court will decide this afternoon whether to overturn the burqini ban.

Corsica bushfire leaves 500 hectares scorched
Photos: AFP

A massive fire left 500 hectares of bushland in Corsica ravaged.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
2,761
jobs available