No place for Muslim headscarves in public service, French leader says

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President Macron was speaking at the Choose La Réunion summit

In an uncharacteristic move for Western Europe, French president Emmanuel Macron said recently that the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women in public service jobs and at schools is his business, goes against the principle of secularism.

Macron was visiting the French overseas territory of Reunion Island on Thursday and he spoke to reporters regarding the Muslim headscarf issue, currently a topic of hot debate in France. France has large numbers of Muslim immigrants and even regions where the culture is so Islamic that French police to not venture in to enforce French law.

“Wearing of the headscarf in public spaces is not my business, however, in public services, at school and while educating children, the headscarf issue is my business. That is what secularism is about,” Macron said.

Macron said the “problem” of Islam has to be solved in his country.

“In some neighborhoods, some people use headscarf as a symbol to break one’s connection with the republic,” he said.

Two weeks ago, French far-right lawmaker Julien Odoul requested that a Muslim woman take off her hijab during a meeting in eastern Besancon and attacked her verbally.

After the incident, the issue sparked discussions and statements targeting Muslims, that have risen recently.

In an open letter to Macron published in Le Monde daily last week, 90 academics, directors, actors and journalists called the president to condemn the attack of Odoul against the Muslim woman.

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