Opinion: Proposed Law Would Restrict Religious Freedom

December 13, 2003

Source: New Straits Times


On December 13, 2003 the New Straits Times ran a column by Rizal Andalas, arguing that the proposed ban of "conspicious" religious symbols in France's public schools constitutes a violation of freedom of religion. Andalas writes, "[T]he proposed ban, while largely understandable when seen through the prism of French historical experience, politics and culture, would be a regrettable move...Besides fulfilling a basic religious requirement, they [Muslim women] see it [wearing hijab] as an expression of their right to religious freedom in a democratic society. For them, and their families, a law banning the headscarf would be seen as violation of religious freedom and a form of state discrimination. In this regard it is interesting to note that many rights groups, women's groups that include non-Muslims, and even Joseph Sitruk, the country's leading Jewish rabbi, and Christian churches, have joined in common cause to oppose the ban."