- Apr 2, 2004
- Reaction score
- Morgan City, Lousian
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=6&u=/ap/20041020/ap_on_re_eu/france_head_scarvesBy ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer
PARIS - Two Muslim girls who refused to remove their head scarves in class have been expelled from school, and two more risked the same fate Wednesday as officials began punishing those who defy a new French law banning conspicuous religious symbols in public schools.
Two girls, ages 12 and 13, were expelled from a school in the eastern city of Mulhouse on Tuesday night — the first expulsions under the new law, the Education Ministry said.
Two 17-year-old girls risk the same fate when their schools convene disciplinary hearings Wednesday, said Gilles-Jean Klein, spokesman for the Academy of Strasbourg, which oversees schools in the area.
Six other disciplinary hearings are to be held this week in public schools around France, the Education Ministry said.
At the start of the week, there were 72 cases of students risking expulsion for refusing to remove conspicuous religious signs or apparel. Most are Muslim girls wearing Islamic head scarves, but Sikh boys wearing turbans are also among them.
France has proceeded cautiously with the new law, especially since two French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq (news - web sites), purportedly by the Islamic Army of Iraq. The group has demanded that the new law be lifted before it would release Christian Chesnot and Christian Malbrunot, who disappeared Aug. 20.
However, this week schools began convening hearings to decide difficult cases before the All Saints Day vacation period, which ends after the Nov. 1 Roman Catholic holiday.
Those expelled have the right to appeal their cases to the head of the academy. If they are under 16 — the legal age for leaving school — the expelled students must continue their education at a private school, by correspondence or another means, Klein said.
Some 600 cases of defiance of the law were counted at the start of the school year in September, but most have been resolved through dialogue — as called for in the law, Education Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday.
The law, passed in March but first applied this fall, bans conspicuous religious signs and apparel, including Muslim head scarves, Jewish skull caps and large Christian crosses.
The small Sikh community in France, estimated at 6,000 people, has learned that turbans also can pose a problem. Three Sikhs at a school in Bobigny, outside Paris, have been kept out of class since September.
In the first court case concerning the law, Sikh leaders asked an administrative court to force the Louise-Michel school to convene a disciplinary council or allow the boys in class. A ruling is expected Friday.
The law is intended to uphold France's constitutionally guaranteed principle of secularism, considered undermined by a growing number of Muslim girls wearing head scarves in public school classrooms.
Authorities have also said they view the law as a way to fight rising Muslim fundamentalism in France and to protect the rights of women, widely viewed here as submissive to men if they wear head scarves.
This is so unfair. Twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls expelled. Cripes! To them it could just be a fashion statement.