A school in northeast France received criticism after the principal sent home a 15-year-old Muslim girl named Sarah for wearing a long black skirt, which the principal believed was a violation of the nation’s secular dress code for schools.
“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,” explained local education official Patrice Dutot.
The French government passed a law in 2004 “that governs secularity in schools, veils, the Jewish kippa or large Christian crosses are banned in educational establishments, but ‘discreet religious signs’ are allowed.” The girl did remove her headscarf before school started.
“The 2004 law says that symbols and clothing worn to show religious affiliation are prohibited,” said Nicolas Cardene, an official who advises the prime minister of these issues. “We obviously think of the veil, the kippa, a large cross, a Sikh turban, or a Buddhist monk robe. A black skirt does not violate the law.”
France also banned the full-face veil in 2011. Public opinion among Muslim women supported the act, though 24 took the law to the European Union in protest. The European Court of Human Rights sided with France.
Supporters took to Twitter to speak out for Sarah. They started the hashtag #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux, which means “I wear my skirt as I please.”
— Sara 🐝 (@DarlesChickens_) April 29, 2015
— yasmin (@yasmina0812) April 29, 2015
Runway models wear long skirts/models & its haute couture, but a Muslim does it and its a threat to secularism #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux
— Zainab M (@ZainabNoorMalik) April 29, 2015
— Mika (@tmikayil) April 28, 2015
Tensions are high in France. In January, the Kouachi brothers slaughtered twelve people at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris over cartoons depicting Mohammed. The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack.