France has recently announced a ban on the wearing of abayas in schools, which has sparked accusations of Islamophobia.
This ban is part of a series of controversial bans and restrictions on items of customarily Islamic dress that France has pursued in recent years.
The ban is based on a 2004 law that prohibits the wearing of clothes or symbols that reveal someone’s religion in educational settings.
While headscarves and other religious symbols are explicitly banned, abayas, which are long, baggy garments worn to comply with Islamic beliefs on modest dress, occupy a grey area and face no outright ban.
The decision to ban abayas in schools has drawn both applause and criticism.
Supporters of the ban argue that abayas flout the secular principles of France and are seen as a symbol of Islamist entryism.
They believe that the ban is necessary to uphold France’s strict brand of secularism and to prevent the influence of Islam in schools.
On the other hand, critics of the ban argue that it is discriminatory and targets Muslim women specifically.
They argue that the ban infringes on religious freedom and perpetuates Islamophobia.
It is important to note that this ban on abayas is not the first ban on religious symbols in France.
In 2010, France implemented a ban on face coverings, which included the niqab but not the hijab.
The ban on abayas in schools is seen as an extension of these previous bans on religious symbols.
BIG⚡️ The French education minister announces a total BAN on Islamic dress in schools.
Students will no longer be allowed to wear the long, flowing dress known as the abaya in classrooms. Hijab is already Banned. pic.twitter.com/JpnMJSu5Rl
— Megh Updates 🚨™ (@MeghUpdates) August 28, 2023
What is an Abaya dress?
An abaya dress is a traditional garment worn by many Muslim women. It is typically a long, loose-fitting robe that covers the entire body except for the face.
The abaya dress is worn as a symbol of modesty and adherence to Islamic principles as it is a way for women to cover their bodies and maintain their privacy in public.
Abaya dresses are usually black in color and have long sleeves.
They are floor-length and designed to be free-flowing, hiding the body’s curves.
Additionally, the sleeves are made of the same fabric and are not stitched on individually, per Research Gate.
When a woman goes out of her home, she wears the abaya dress over her street garments.
It can be closed with snaps, a zipper, or layers that overlap at the front.
Some women also choose to wear a scarf to cover their hair along with the abaya dress.
Abaya dresses are worn by Muslim women around the globe, but they are particularly common in Gulf countries.
In fact, 96% of women in Gulf countries wear abayas when they go out.
Many women choose to wear abaya dresses regularly because they are suitable for the region’s high temperatures and dusty weather.
The loose-fitting design allows for airflow and provides comfort in hot climates.
Contrary to popular belief, abaya dresses can be fashionable and trendy.
They come in various styles and designs, and some even feature delicate Swarovski sparkle.
Women can express their personal style through the choice of fabric, embellishments and accessories.