Saudi Arabia: The Hijab and France

France banned students in its schools from wearing any religious symbols and dress denoting religious affiliations – including the Islamic headscarf or the Hijab for women – in 2004. Saudi woman are now protesting against the ruling – four years later, say bloggers.

Ahmed Al Omran, or Saudi Jeans, discusses his reactions to a newspaper article which interviews a student objecting to the French ruling.

He notes:

When the French government decided to ban all religious symbols in schools few years ago the decision hardly went unnoticed, especially by Muslims as many of them found the rule directly targeting the hijab. While I find this French rule idiotic, I find it equally if not more idiotic what some Saudi female students who got scholarships to France have to say about the implications of this rule on their education.

One of the girls interviewed by the papers calls on Saudi officials to “sort out” the issue with French authorities, to allow Saudi women to have their veil. Saudi Jeans hits back saying:

The only way I see for our “officials” to “sort it out” is this: one of them gets the French citizenship, he wins the presidential elections there, and then he makes the parliament change the law. Pretty straight forward, huh? No offense to Ms. Abdulhadi, but don’t you think you could have spent a few hours learning some general information about France and its laws before you apply for a scholarship there?

Another student went as far as asking the government to stop scholarships to France altogether. Sorry Missy, just because you think French laws contradict what you believe in doesn’t give you the right to deny others the chance to go and pursue a better education in that place as long as it suits their beliefs.

One of the readers, Hala in the USA, isn't happy with Al Omran's tone. She says:

Saudi Jeans, I didn’t like your sarcastic tone, after all, those girls were grown in here, it’s part of a sacred belief to cover up, how did you catch this tone? people can express what they think about laws, laws and policies are changing every now and then with any new and worthy viewpoints, and democracy oblige people to take all opinions into consideration even from foreigners…People can voice their requests in a free world like France as you know!!!

Crossroads Arabia links to the newspaper article and offers the following explanation:

This Arab News story reports that female Saudi students are running into problems with their hijabs in French medical schools. The article—and apparently some of the students—confuses the French law that prohibits wearing of religious symbols in elementary and secondary schools (which ban also includes kippeh or yarmulke and large crosses), with separate rules of medical schools which ban head coverings as unhygienic.

Wearing hijab in French universities is not, as a rule, forbidden. Medical schools, however, have other issues than laïcité in mind. I realize that Saudi medical schools don’t see this as a problem, but the French see it otherwise.


  • Me

    To be precise: religious symbols are banned from PUBLIC schools in France, public laïcité -somewhat similar to what you can see in Turkey- is of course a good thing. Saudi women should rather protest where it is relevant: back in Saudi Arabia, they will have a hard work there to get any piece of what is called freedom… And if you are a foreign citizen within an host country: either you abide to their rules or you pack your bag.

    • Biju

      Dear Ms.Amira,

      You are brave and different. I appreciate your way of thinking.
      I am not blaming or objecting anything but I really do not understand why girls really insist for wearing full black gowns which covers head to floor. When i asked to a muslim elderly man in India he says muslims do not want their girls like prostitute. His answer really surprised me. It shows how he thinks at his old age. I was struck of his thinking if he sees my mum and sisters.
      For girls they value for just flesh to quest thier thirst for sex.
      I am not generalising. When all are making loud cries for this burqa and hijab your views stand out as a ray of hope. Burqa is to be banned and it is a simbal of ignorance.
      Thanks and regards

  • ahmad jordan

    Hypocracy in the “englightened world” is amazing. Arab dictators are more tolerant than the enlightened Sarkozi and other western leaders. If you go to a university in jordan, the dictator does not impose hijab on you, so a french girl can go to school in jordan without changing her life style. But if you are a muslim girl that wears hijab you cannot go to school in france.
    In addition to this if you try to build a mosque in the west people organise to block the house of worship unlike what happens if you are a chrisitan living in jordan.
    SO tell me who is more tolerant, jordan’s dictator or the french enlightened leaders.

  • Me

    @ ahmad jordan

    Oh yeah, about hypocrisy your so-called “freedom” to wear the Hijab was spot on… It is well known that 12 yo girls are asking by themselves to wear an Hijab… Alright.

  • Maybe the answer is to educate boys and girls separately!
    Then there would be no need for the hijab inside the school…and whats more the pupils would better attend to their lessons rather than oggling the most attractive boy or girl in class. Theres plenty of time for relationships/casual encounters as an adult.

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