French Assembly Bans Student Religious Garb

The French National Assembly voted in February to ban students from wearing religious headgear and jewelry in the country's public schools.

By a 494-to-36 vote, the National Assembly approved a measure that would bar religious garb, which has been defined by government officials and an advisory commission to include Islamic head scarves, large Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps. The New York Times reported that Sikh turbans would likely also be included in the ban.

The French Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure in March. President Jacques Chirac has come out in favor of the ban and spoke on its behalf in a nationally televised address. Polls show most French citizens support the ban, which could take effect in the coming school year.

Officials with the Bush administration have called on French lawmakers to reconsider the legislation and even suggested that the measure could subvert international religious freedom agreements.