Wednesday's cabinet approval opens the way for the bill's passage through parliament before it finally becomes a law.

Hugely controversial and stiffly contested, the proposed law bans religious symbols from schools.

It states that in schools "the wearing of signs or clothes which conspicuously display a pupil's religious affiliation is prohibited."

The bill has its first reading before the National Assembly, parliament's lower house next Tuesday.

Outrage

Muslims around the world, including France's minority Muslim population, have taken to the streets in large numbers to oppose the ban.

Muslim leaders say the ban is discriminatory and infringes on their rights.

Even France's Sikhs have opposed the law, which would prohibit their children from wearing their customary turban to schools.

But despite global protests, the French government remains adamant about the ban. It says the law is aimed at strengthening France's secular credentials.