The debate over whether schools should be inclusive of religious practices or adhere to a secular approach is a multifaceted and complex one.

Balancing respect for diverse religious beliefs with the preservation of a neutral, secular environment is crucial. One such effort to uphold secularism in state-run schools is evident in the French government’s ban on the abaya, a garment worn by some Muslim women, in these institutions, citing concerns about preserving secular values.

However, this ban has stirred conflict within society, with leftists criticizing it as “inherently racist” and rightists fervently supporting it in the name of upholding strict secularism, often referred to as “laicite.”

When Real Research conducted a survey on France Banning Abaya in Schools, it revealed mixed reactions from respondents, with some leaning more toward the rightist arguments of secularism. Explore further what respondents think about France banning abaya in schools in this comprehensive insight.

Key Highlights

  • 58.86% supported France for banning abayas in schools
  • Nearly 51% argued that this ban reinforces France’s commitment to secularity
  • This ban is another sign of Islamophobia, reckoned 47.34%

Where’s the School Dress?

Recently, Gabriel Attal, the newly-appointed 34-year-old Education Minister of France, announced that the wearing of long robes, known as abayas and primarily worn by Muslims, will be banned starting from the upcoming school year.

44.8% of Real Research respondents stated they were fully aware of this ban, while 36.17% mentioned partial awareness. Additionally, 19.03% claimed they were completely unaware of this news.

Further, when asked about their feelings regarding the ban, a substantial 38.41% expressed slight agreement with this decision, while 14.03% showed strong agreement. However, there were 26.7% who slightly disagreed with the ban, along with 20.86% who strongly disagreed.

Secularism or Intolerance?

It’s worth noting that in 2011, France became the first European country to impose a ban on full-face veils, and prior to that, in 2004, it enacted a law prohibiting the wearing of hijabs and other religious symbols in state schools. This law extended to restrict students from wearing any overtly religious attire, including the Islamic headscarf, Jewish kippas, Sikh turbans, and Christian crosses, in a pursuit to maintain secularism.

In this context, when respondents were asked about their support for the recent ban on wearing abayas to school, an overwhelming 58.86% expressed support, leaving 41.14% in opposition, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Do you support France’s decision to ban abaya in schools?

The finding regarding the abaya ban’s influence on fostering cultural integration and diversity in schools revealed that a staggering majority of 52.19% responded positively, while 47.81% held a negative view.

What’s Fueling the Fire?

Regarding the primary concern fueling the ongoing debate over France banning abaya in schools, 36.86% argued it’s a religious concern related to Muslim women’s freedom of expression. An additional 34.61% counterargued that it’s a cultural concern tied to integration, while 28.53% noted it as neither cultural nor religious in nature.

Meanwhile, the ban was criticized by several opposition lawmakers and politicians who accused the government of being Islamophobic, and when this survey asked if this move is a sign of Islamophobia in European countries, 47.34% somewhat agreed to it, alongside 33.84% who strongly agreed. On the other hand, 13.33% slightly disagreed, and 5.49% completely disagreed with this accusation.

Fig. 2: Will this ban impact the perception of France’s cultural and religious tolerance?

While France banning abaya in schools has sparked a global debate on the country’s cultural and religious tolerance, a resounding 50.63% opined that this ban signifies the nation’s commitment to its “laicite” or secular values. However, as Fig. 2 suggests, 49.37% were in favor of the argument that this ban reinforces France’s intolerance toward cultural and religious diversity.

Also Read: Survey on the Ban on Women Education in Afghanistan

What To Wear, What Not To Wear?

Leftists highlighted that French state-run schools lack specific uniforms, allowing students to dress as they please, with government-imposed exceptions like headscarves, turbans, abayas, and khamis, which has raised concerns about discrimination against religious attire.

Fig. 3: Should France introduce school uniforms?

Some have proposed that, to promote inclusivity and multicultural practices among students, the government should prioritize implementing a uniform dress code in schools rather than resorting to these bans. A whopping 62.17% resonated with this idea, as shown in Fig. 3, while 37.83% did not see a need to introduce uniforms in schools.


Survey TitleSurvey on France Banning Abaya in Schools
DurationSeptember 2, 2023 to September 9, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.