French School Closed After Pupils Riot over Islamic Clothing Restrictions

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A high school in Nanterre was closed Friday after pupils clashed with police, demanding a ban on loose clothing, including traditional Islamic clothing, be lifted.

Pupils of the Joliot Curie high school in Nanterre began their protests earlier this week on Monday blocking the entry to school. On Tuesday, the blockade descended into violence as pupils clashed with local police, resulting in 14 arrests as two police were reportedly injured by pupils throwing projectiles.

On Thursday, around 50 pupils blocked the entrance to the school, according to a report from broadcaster France Bleu, and once again the situation escalated into violence.

The blockade was launched with a number of demands, including the restoration of a scrapped homework help service as well as the demand to lift a ban on loose clothing that includes the abaya, a traditional Islamic garment worn by women.

“These individuals violently attacked high school students, passers-by, motorists, as well as the police present,” the Academy of Versailles said in a statement. One police officer was injured Thursday as a result of the violence, with stones, smoke bombs and mortar fireworks being thrown at officers.

As a precaution, the school decided to close on Friday to prevent any further tensions and violence following the incidents.

They also said they would bring back the homework help service, and that two teaching assistants would be available to pupils who requested help.

Earlier this year in June, France’s Central Territorial Intelligence Service (SCRT) reported that there had been at least 144 violations of French secularism laws in schools that prohibit the wearing of religious clothing such as the hijab or the djellaba, traditional Islamic clothing worn by men.

Former French Inspector General of National Education Jean-Pierre Obin blamed far-left ideology for the spread of Islamist ideas in French schools in 2020, saying: “It is this part of the extreme left, very present in the National Education, that thinks that attacking Islamism is attacking Islam. [They think that] Muslim students are victims, and therefore we must not have the same attitude towards them as towards other students.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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