The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has sparked controversy by suggesting the Muslim headscarf should be banned in universities and that a majority of French people think Islam is incompatible with the values of the Republic.
The Socialist, under pressure over contested labour reforms and growing street protest movements, reopened the divisive question of whether students could be banned from wearing headscarves at French universities.
In a long interview with the daily Libération, he was asked whether headscarves should be banned by law from universities and replied: “It should be done,” conceding that the constitution made it difficult.
But other Socialist ministers immediately contradicted him. “There is no need for a law on the headscarf at university,” said Thierry Mandon, the higher education minister. He said students were adults, and as such they ”have every right to wear a headscarf. The headscarf is not banned in French society.”
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the education minister, said she did not support banning headscarves from universities, adding that students were young adults with “freedom of conscience and religious liberty” to do as they please. “Our universities also have a lot of foreign students. Are we going to ban them access because in their culture there’s a certain type of clothing?” she said. Read more