France’s Muslim women fearful as govt seeks to widen hijab ban

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The controversy surrounding the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, has been rekindled in France this week after the French Court of Cassation annulled the 2008 dismissal of a Muslim nurse from a private daycare center because she refused to stop wearing the hijab.

The court’s decision created a fire storm in France, prompting President Francois Hollande to seek a law that would extend restrictions on wearing “prominent religious symbols” to private schools.

Politicians agreeing with the president have spoken out.

“The Muslims here are French too, and we are proud of their presence, but I agree with the president on the importance of issuing a law that will block the right wing from promoting a complete ban on headscarves,” Socialist Party MP Olivier Four told Al Arabiya.

Muslim women wearing the hijab have voiced concerns over their future in France.

Algerian graduate student Souad, fears any new restriction might affect her chances of finding a suitable job in the future.

“I can't work in public institutions, and now I can't work in private institutions. What is my future? In my opinion, this is a disastrous law,” she said.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, warns from the repercussions of a new law, but asks Muslims to remain calm.

“The balance is living our religious life in freedom and dignity and at the same time avoiding anything that may provoke the other,” Moussaoui said.

Observers say any new law banning headscarves in private institutions would bring back the tension that gripped France eight years ago.

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