The former French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, has proposed a ban on Muslim headscarves at Universities in the country. Sarkozy made the call on French TV, in order to head off the threat of the National Front at this month’s local elections, according to The Times.
The ban on headscarves in universities would be in line with longer standing rules that ban any form of religious dress from schools.
Sarkozy told the TF1 network: “I don’t see any coherence in a system that bans the veil in state schools and allows it at universities.” He continued: “If you want your children to have religious eating habits, you send them to private schools.”
He also used his appearance to back councils that wanted to abolish pork-free menus in their buildings.
The announcements were mocked by both the National Front and the left-wing President, Francois Hollande, who beat Sarkozy three years ago. Hollande claimed the new policy was designed to head off the relegation of Sarkozy’s party to second place at the election on 29th March.
Marine Le Pen from the National Front was equally scathing. She said: “Nicolas Sarkozy is running after the National Front and has pulled out the machine of unkept promises a few days before the elections… Not a single French person is fooled by this masquerade.”
France’s Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls, claimed Sarkozy was “a man with no spine nor convictions” because he had failed to introduce this policy during his own term of office. He continued: “Dozens and dozens of the party’s council candidates . . . are using antisemitic, racist and homophobic language.”
But Sarkozy hit back at Valls saying: “France is not governed any more since Mr Valls prefers the excess of words, the excess of posturing when the French are expecting action, calm and results.”
Despite the attacks levelled at Sarkozy, France has led the way on religious clothing bans in public institutions. This includes bans on Islamic dress like the Burkahs, as well as a prohibition on Christian crosses in schools.