The Conseil d'État’s urgent applications judge has dismissed an organisation's application for interim measures against the ban on wearing the abaya or qamis in state schools. Based on the summary investigation, the judge took the view that the ban on wearing these garments does not break the law by seriously and manifestly infringing a fundamental freedom.
In a circular dated 31 August 2023, the Minister of Education and Youth stated that wearing the abaya or qamis in state schools was a conspicuous manifestation of religious affiliation prohibited by article L. 141-5-1 of the French Education Code, enacted by the law of 15 March 20041. The Action Droits des Musulmans organisation had asked the Conseil d'État to suspend the circular as a matter of urgency.
The judge, hearing the case on the basis of the “freedom summary procedure” (référé-liberté) set out in article L. 521-2 of the French Administrative Justice Code, considered, based on the summary investigation, that the ban did not break the law by seriously and manifestly infringing the right to privacy, freedom of religion, the right to education, respect for the best interests of the child or the principle of non-discrimination.
During the 2022-2023 academic year, there was a sharp increase in the number of reports of pupils wearing the abaya or qamis in schools. The judge noted that this trend was part of a process of religious affirmation, as was clear from comments made during discussions with pupils. However, the law prohibits pupils from wearing conspicuous religious symbols or clothing that show, either in themselves or because of the pupil's behaviour, that they belong to a religion.
On these grounds, the Conseil d'État’s urgent applications judge dismissed the appeal by the Action Droits des Musulmans organisation.
Read the decision (in French)