By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, April 23, 2012
Yassmina is an ambitious young Moroccan student who could never imagine that her application to the preparatory classes in the French high school Descartes would be rejected for the sole reason that she wears a headscarf, a manifestation of her religious commitment. Even less expected was that she faced such a rejection in her own country.
According to the Moroccan daily “Al Alam” the high school administration responded to criticism by asserting that it acted in compliance with the French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools, which bans wearing such symbols in public places, especially those operated by the government such as primary and secondary schools. This incident brings, once again, to the limelight the compatibility between secularism as a mode of governance and Islam. The incident uncovers also a problematic issue related to the legitimacy of the French law on Moroccan soil, bearing in mind that Morocco has previously signed an agreement with Descartes high school that does not exempt the institution from abiding by Moroccan laws.
This persistence to enforce a French law in a independent country is more likely to be perceived as violating Morocco’s sovereignty, since it challenges openly the force of Moroccan law. The French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools established in March 2004 has been controversial even in France where Muslim women have paid a heavy price for these discriminatory measures.
Muslim women who chose to wear the Hijab have been subjected to legal blackmail leaving them with two distasteful options, either to go counter to one of the core precepts in Islam or to surrender their legitimate right to education.
The Descartes high school administration is defying not only Moroccan sovereignty but also the PJD-led government. It is noteworthy that the PJD has stood adamantly against this law and condemned all measures liable that grant legitimacy and legal protection to any unlawful act of discrimination. Many expect that Benkirane’s government will not stay with its hands tied while discrimination against Muslim women is committed in Morocco by a foreign institution.
The French law on secularity has revealed its shortcomings in a multicultural country like France, which seems still uncomfortable with its large immigrant population, especially those from the Muslim community. The promulgation of the French law on secularity and the ban of the Burqa are strong evidence that the French government has opted for a strategy of exclusion and stigmatization rather than a policy of integration.
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