Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has stated that she believes veiled mothers should be allowed to accompany their children on school trips, contrary to the law currently in place. Malika Sorel, member of the Haut Conseil a L’Integration (Council for Integration) responds.

Sorel quotes Abdelwahab Meddeb who stated that the veil “is an infringement on the principle of equality and on the respect between sexes…it is fitting to place the veil in a society that chauvinistic, misogynistic, that is constructed on the separation of the sexes, on a gender hierarchy.” She believes that “these school trips are integral parts of the educational project and that they are placed under the auspice of the Republic. There is no ambiguity on this point and if we had a real political and administrative elite, Minister Luc Chapel would not have had to clarify. He did it—and it’s to his credit—to protect the school staff that is first in line, and because tensions began to occur in the field, as we reported to the High Council of Integration.”

She states, “Our political elites, for many, and as I have observed, no longer defend the public interest. They are quick to give in at the least offensive. We are in a classic balance of power and our elites, who do not fear the French people, began—and this is unfortunately not new—to take France and the Republic as adjustable variables, hence the sacrifice of secularism and cultural norms that govern [France’s] well-being. To reduce the whole analysis to a simple question of clothing would be a mistake.”

Sorel states that politicians “know that a woman who wears a veil becomes a walking moral lesson for other Muslims that can lead to pressure to also [wear the veil]…The veil is thus not neutral and can be transformed into an instrument that denies liberty to some women.” She also states that according to a recent survey by CREDOC the French feel “increasingly disturbed by these signs, and 81% wish to see [the veil] banned in private enterprises. I therefore don’t see how the decision of Najat Vallad-Belkacem could be likened to any gesture of appeasement or tolerance.”

She concludes, “Unfortunately for a long time our politicians have dared to risk anything and everything, including the destabilization of France’s foundations, without really taking into account the consequences: there is a safe bet that the French people are not dead, have not committed suicide, and that they are coming out, little by little, from their long unconscious state.”

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