France to rule on hijab as 'last resort'

The French prime minister has said his government will only legislate as a "last resort" on Muslim girls wearing Islamic scarves in school.

    The hijab is a religious obligation for Muslim women

    Jean-Pierre Raffarin warned, however, that in French state

    schools "ostentatious attitudes and the proselytism symbolised by some

    veils must be totally forbidden

    ".

    During a visit to a Paris mosque on Friday, he said: "I would hope that a middle ground could be found and it's only

    if all else fails that a law would then become a last resort."

    But stubborn attempts to "display a difference, sometimes in a

    provocative way, must and will be be contained," he said.

    Contentious issue 

    The wearing of the hijab by girls in schools in France and

    other European countries has become increasingly contentious.

    France, whose 60 million

    population counts five million Muslims, is struggling to balance the

    principle of secularism with

    freedom of

    religion.

    Raffarin has repeatedly expressed his wish to see the problem

    resolved without legislation, but has said that step would be taken

    if necessary.

    SOURCE: AFP


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