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French Muslim barred from class over long skirt

France faced another outcry against its strict secularity laws on Wednesday after it emerged that a 15-year-old Muslim schoolgirl was twice banned from class for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious.

French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
A Muslim pupil has been barred from classes in France over the length of her skirt, that was deemed openly religious. Photo: AFP

The girl was stopped from going to class earlier this month by the head teacher who reportedly felt the long skirt — popular among some Muslim women who cover their whole body — “conspicuously” showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France's strict secularity laws.

“The girl was not excluded, she was asked to come back with a neutral outfit and it seems her father did not want the student to come back to school,” local education official Patrice Dutot told AFP on Tuesday.

He added that the student always removed her veil before entering school premises in the northeastern town of Charleville-Mezieres, as is specifically stipulated by law.

According to the 2004 law that governs secularity in schools, veils, the Jewish kippa or large Christian crosses are all banned in educational establishments, but “discreet religious signs” are allowed.

The student, whom local daily L'Ardennais identified as Sarah, told the newspaper her skirt was “nothing special, it's very simple, there's nothing conspicuous. There is no religious sign whatsoever.”

Her story was trending on Twitter in France Tuesday with the hashtag #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux, translated into English as “I wear my skirt as I please.”

 

“If it's worn by a 'white' person, it's hippy chic, if it's a Muslim, it becomes conspicuous,” one user tweeted.

 

 

But the regional education office hinted in a statement that wearing the skirt could have been part of a concerted “provocation.”

“When it comes to concerted protest actions by students, which follow other more visible incidents linked for instance to wearing the veil, the secular framework for education must be firmly reminded and guaranteed,” it said.

According to the CCIF Islamophobia watchdog, some 130 students were rejected from class last year for outfits deemed too openly religious.

According to CCIF those incidents included one in the southern city of Montpellier, when several girls were excluded from classes for wearing skirts deemed too long.

“Wearing a long skirt is nothing ostentatious.This is more due to mass hysteria,” said Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia.

 

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MUSLIMS

France ‘charges 10 ultra-right suspects over plot to attack Muslims’

French authorities have charged 10 suspected far-right extremists in connection with an alleged plot to attack Muslims, a judicial source said Thursday.

France 'charges 10 ultra-right suspects over plot to attack Muslims'
File photo: RAID police officers
The nine men and one woman aged 32 to 69 were arrested in raids across France on Saturday.
 
The suspects, whose detention was extended late Monday for a further 48 hours, had an “ill-defined plan to commit a violent act targeting people of the Muslim faith,” one source close to the probe said previously.
 
They appeared before a judge on Wednesday evening and were charged with “criminal terrorist conspiracy”, the source said.

   
Several were also charged with violations of firearms laws and the manufacture or possession of explosive devices.
 
Police have linked the ten to a little-known group called Action des Forces Operationnelles (Operational Forces Action), which urges French people to 
combat Muslims, or what it calls “the enemy within”.
 
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Police outside the home of Guy S., the alleged leader of a group linked with the ultra right 'AFO' . Photo: AFP

Rifles, handguns and homemade grenades were found during searches in the Paris area, the Mediterranean island of Corsica and the western Charentes-Maritimes region.  

Prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday that 36 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized, as well as items in one suspect's home that 
could be used in the manufacture of TATP explosives.
 
The suspects include a retired police officer, identified only as Guy S., who was the alleged leader of the group, according to a source close to the investigation. The group also includes a former soldier.
   
France remains on high alert following a wave of jihadist attacks which have killed more than 240 people since 2015.
   
Officials have urged people not to confuse the actions of radicalised individuals with those of France's estimated six million Muslims — but anti-Islamic violence is on the rise.
   
The “Guerre de France” (War for France) website of the shadowy Operational Forces Action depicts an apocalyptic battle scene under the Eiffel Tower, and claims to prepare “French citizen-soldiers for combat on national territory” (see image below).
 
  
France's TF1 television has said the group planned to target radicalised imams and Islamist prisoners after their release from jail, as well as veiled women in the street chosen at random.
   
France registered 72 violent anti-Muslim acts last year, up from 67 in 2016.

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