Luc Bronner and Xavier Ternisien
Don’t be too shocked, but school started peacefully this year, said Luc Bronner and Xavier Ternisien in Le Monde. Alarmists had feared another round of demonstrations and protests against the law banning religious symbols in public schools. The “head-scarf law,” so called because it was aimed primarily at banning the head scarves worn by Muslim girls, sparked massive outcries last year when it was first enacted. But just one year on, the immigrant community has accepted it quietly. In all of France, just 12 students showed up for the fall term wearing unacceptable religious symbols—including scarves, crosses, yarmulkes, or turbans—compared with 639 last year. The Education Ministry estimates that a few hundred students have opted to take their public-school courses by correspondence, while perhaps the same amount has switched to private schools. Catholic schools, in particular, reported an upswing in the number of turbaned Sikh boys enrolling. Many Muslims, though, have simply shed their scarves during school hours. Far from finding the law oppressive or discriminatory, most Muslim girls “see it as liberating.”
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