Europe's largest Muslim population of 4-5 million Muslim resides in France. On February 10, 2004 the French government approved an internationally controversial ban on headscarves, known as the hijab, worn by Muslim women attending public schools. Although the law banned all religious symbols, in this paper I focus on the ramification it has on the Muslim girls adhering to the hijab. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the legislation ban of the hijab in France. Several questions are explored at various stages of the discussion including the following: Is wearing the hijab an expression of culture, religious obligation, or both? Does wearing the hijab jeopardize secularism, as French educational policy suggests? What are the alleged reasons, explicit and underlying, for the French legislation under scrutiny? What do French educators think of the law banning the hijab? Did the legislation take into account the decision's effect on young Muslim women in France, their self-esteem, their educational pursuits, and their identity formation?
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