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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
French school bans headscarf girls
Alma and Lila Levy
There is disagreement among French Muslims over headscarves.

Two teenage sisters have been expelled from their high school in a suburb of Paris for wearing the Islamic headscarf.

The move against 16-year-old Alma Levy and her sister Lila, 18, by the Henri Wallon lycee, in the northern suburb of Aubervilliers, followed a vote taken at a meeting of the school's disciplinary board late on Friday night.

"The Islamic veil they were wearing in class was judged to be ostentatious," French TV said.

They told us we have to show the roots of our hair, the lobes of our ears and our necks
Lila

National regulations lay down that signs of religious observance should not be displayed in state educational institutions.

"I'm disappointed and angry. It's terrible," Alma Levy said on learning of the board's decision.

"I think the school took their decision a long time ago and that they wanted to make an example of us".

'Unjust'

Since being suspended from the school in September, the girls had been studying at home pending the disciplinary board's decision.

The girls' lawyer, Gerard Tcholkian, said the decision to expel the girls was "unjust" and he would appeal against it.

The president of the French anti-racist movement MRAP, Mouloud Aounit, called the ruling "a terrible defeat for secularism, intelligence and dialogue".

But a teacher at the school, Loris Castellani, told French TV that the school would not cave in to pressure.

"We have been talking to some of the pupils of Maghreb or Muslim origin and they are saying to us: Stick to your guns, because we don't want the headscarf in school, because for these girls the school is the last place of refuge," he said.

"They can rely on the school to resist the social pressures in their community, in the district they live in."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Headscarves: contentious cloths
26 Sep 03  |  Europe


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