Muslim mothers protest against French education minister’s demand that they leave hijab at home

Angry Muslim mothers and rights groups in France rally against a controversial proposal that bans Muslim moms from taking part in their children’s extracurricular activities at school.

Protesters chanted slogans against French Education Minister Luc Chatel, who has asked Muslim mothers that want to accompany their children on field trips to leave home their veils, whether they are the version that also covers the face or the simple headscarves.

With chants of “Mothers excluded, children humiliated”, the female demonstrators criticized the French government for what they described as controlling their lives and their children’s education, a Press TV correspondent reported Monday.

In 2004, France banned students from wearing Islamic shawls but the official anti-discrimination body now says the ban applies only to students and not their parents.

There is concern that a vaguely-worded decree would ultimately prevent women that wear the Islamic headdress from even entering the school or lead to humiliations that render them second-class citizens.

The protesters argue that the proposal fuels Islamophobia and flies in the face of women’s rights. “It’s always women they point their finger at. In 2004, it was a young girl who was expelled from school and today it’s their mothers,” said N’della Paye with Feminists for Equality Collective.

The recent development follows efforts by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to pass anti-Muslim laws, including the recent burqa ban, to seek re-election by gaining the support of the National Front, some observers believe.

Most teachers welcome the participation of parents in school activities with open arms. However, many mothers wonder whether the message being conveyed is that Muslims are a bad influence on children.

Press TV, 3 May 2011