The Veil Controversy

This case portrays Naima, an Islamic student in a French classroom. The student wears a veil across her head and face, in accordance with her religious beliefs. This practice places her at the center of the French debate regarding the role of religion in the classroom.

Directions

“The Veil Controversy” portrays Naima, an Islamic student in a French classroom. The student wears a veil across her head and face, in accordance with her religious beliefs. This practice places her at the center of the French debate regarding the role of religion in the classroom.
Check out the Readings in order to explore documents and articles relevant to “The Veil Controversy.” These readings reveal the intricacies of French law and culture that make wearing a veil so controversial.

 

In a college in the west of France, Naima, a pupil in 4th form whose schooling had progressed without any problem, comes along in March 2000, with her head covered by a veil that she refuses to remove, in the name of her religious belief.

Naima left Turkey with her parents and arrived in France when she was 3 years old. (She is now 14.) Her schooling has been rather good. She has never repeated a year, and her teachers consider her a painstaking, academically able pupil. She has chosen German as a first foreign language, because her uncle and his children are living in Frankfurt. And it was after a stay in Frankfurt, during the winter holidays, that she came back to school wearing a veil.

The mathematics teacher refused to admit her into his classroom, and he requested that the head teacher exclude her permanently. The pedagogical team is divided on this point: half of the teachers bar the pupil as long as she is wearing the veil; a small minority of teachers accept the pupil in their classes, because they think it is a basic necessity that the student should not be deprived of knowledge.

Naima asserted several times that she is ready to attend all classes except Physical Education, from which she is medically exempted since her admission into the college.

The Inspection academique proposed that Naima be permitted to wear her veil on the playground and in the hallways–but that she take it off during classes.

The headmaster is hesitatant about the implementation of this solution–which was refused by the majority of the pedagogical team. The team proposes that the student enlist in correspondence courses.

For three weeks, Naima has been staying all day long at the CDI. Some students bring her the lessons of the day, and a few teachers give her exercises.