April 20, 2022, 08:36 | Updated: April 20, 2022, 08:38
Banning the Islamic veil in French schools has helped Muslim girls get better grades and led to an increase in women marrying outside their religion, a new study has found.
The wearing of the veil was banned in all schools in France in 2004 alongside other “ostentatious religious symbols” after 70% of the nation felt the veil was an obstacle to the country’s national unity.
The move was criticized by religious leaders who feared the ban would lead to increased persecution, but new research suggests the law has significantly improved the education of Muslim girls.
Statistics show that before the ban was introduced, Muslim women were about 12% less likely to complete high school compared to their peers.
After the ban was implemented, the gap narrowed to 6.5% and research suggests that around this time Muslim women began to marry outside their religion.
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Professor Eric Maurin, co-author of the study, said: “For students who wore the veil, the ban may have had a negative effect on those who were most attached to it, because it may have led them to drop out of school. .
“But the ban may also have had a positive effect on students forced to wear headscarves and on students facing stigma and discrimination at school because of it.
“Comparing women from the Muslim group to those from the non-Muslim group, the data reveals a very significant increase in educational attainment in the Muslim group for the cohorts that attended college and reached puberty after the ban.
“This increase clearly coincides with the implementation of the circular: the more years women from the Muslim group spent in college after the circular, the higher their level of education.
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The new findings come as right-wing presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has pledged to implement a nationwide headscarf ban in public spaces if she wins the election.
The politician described the hijab as part of the “Islamist uniform” saying it was “imposed over time by people who have a radical view of Islam”.
Speaking of her plan to ban religious dress, she said: “Women who don’t wear it are isolated, pressured and insulted.
“I will not tolerate this, all women in France must be able to live in complete freedom.”
With approximately five million Muslims in France, the headscarf is commonly worn by many Muslim women.
But over the weekend, the presidential candidate apparently relaxed her headscarf policy, noting that the questions involve “complex issues” and that “there will be debate.”
It comes after reports suggested the policy was hampering his popularity ahead of the election.