France’s top court rejects appeal against ban on Muslim abaya dress in schools

France’s highest court on Monday ruled that the government ban on Muslim dress abaya is legal.

The Council of State said it had rejected an appeal by three organizations against the government ban announced last month on abaya – a loose-fitting and full-length robe – worn by some Muslim students in schools.

Last week, the Sud Education Paris, La Voix Lyceenne and Le Poing Leve Lycee unions in France filed an appeal against the ban.

On Aug. 31, Vincent Brengarth, a lawyer for the Muslim Rights Action (ADM), filed an appeal with the Council of State to seek the suspension of the ban on the abaya which he said violates “several fundamental freedoms.”

On Sept. 7, the Council of State rejected the ADM’s appeal, saying: “This ban does not seriously violate and is not manifestly illegal to the right to respect for private life, the freedom of religion, the right to education.”

The controversial move sparked a backlash against the government, which has been criticized in recent years for targeting Muslims with statements and policies, including raids on mosques and charitable foundations, and an “anti-separatism” law that imposes broad restrictions on the community.

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