- Pakistan’s Foreign Office says banning abayas is unfair to Muslims.
- The spokesperson asks France to think again about their choice.
- France believes abayas go against their strict laws about religion and education.
In a strong response to France’s recent ban on abayas, Pakistan has voiced its concerns, asserting that such a ban violates fundamental human rights and religious freedom. The ban, which has been met with criticism, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, has been labeled as “Islamophobic” by Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.
The ban on abayas, long and loose garments worn by some Muslim women, was officially announced by the French government on August 28. The ban specifically targets schools in France, citing concerns that abayas violate the country’s strict secular laws. Over 500 educational establishments are currently under scrutiny as students across the country return to class.
Mumtaz Zahra Baloch emphasized that such restrictions inherently infringe upon the rights of freedom, human rights, religion, and freedom of expression for Muslim girls and women. She stressed that this ban is deeply concerning as it hampers their ability to express their religious identity and participate fully in public life.
The spokesperson called upon the French authorities to reconsider their decision to ban the abaya dress, highlighting the need to respect the religious and cultural diversity of their citizens. Pakistan’s stance is in line with its commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms of Muslims around the world.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne of France, while visiting a school in northern France, acknowledged the ban’s implementation and stated that there had been no significant incidents thus far. She noted that some students had willingly removed their abayas, while others would engage in discussions to understand the law’s application. The French government aims to use educational approaches to explain the rationale behind the ban.
However, the ban on abayas has sparked a heated political debate in France. While the political right welcomed the move, the hard left argued that it represented an infringement on civil liberties. Critics accused President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government of trying to appeal to the far-right National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, and shifting towards a more conservative stance.
At the start of the school year, authorities identified 513 schools that could potentially be affected by the abaya ban. It’s important to note that France has approximately 45,000 schools, with 12 million students returning to school on the day the ban came into effect.
The ban on abayas in French schools has raised questions about the balance between secularism and religious freedom. The international community continues to closely monitor the situation as various countries, including Pakistan, express their concerns over what they view as an infringement on the rights of Muslim women. The debate surrounding this ban highlights the ongoing challenges of accommodating religious diversity within secular societies.