Tuesday, July 23, 2013

France's Headscarf war: Does it Attack or Protect Religious Freedom?

More rioting, more trouble over Muslim head coverings in Paris. In one incident, police stop and check the identity of a woman in a niqab, a full head covering. In another incident, school authorities tell a Muslim mother she cannot accompany her son on a school trip while wearing her hijab.

Angelique Chrisafis, writing for The Guardian, explains that this is all about separating church and state. "At the heart is the rule that any state worker in the public service must be impartial and neutral, and so cannot show their religious belief with an outward symbol such as a headscarf. Public-sector workers – from teachers to post office or train station staff – are prohibited from wearing the hijab, a visible cross, turban or Jewish kippa."

Does this position protect freedom of religion or does it threaten it.  The question might provide an interesting discussion in religion class.

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