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2005-06-21 - Court of cassation, n. 02-19831

Public space · France · Dress code · School

Legality of headscarf ban in a catholic school

Key facts of the case - A pupil was allowed to attend a private catholic school provided that she abides by the internal ruling banning the wearing of her headscarf inside the school. Her parents lodged an appeal against this restriction imposed by the association, who runs the school. They argue that this condition would infringe the commitment of this type of school to provide a teaching respectful of the freedom of conscience and to welcome all pupils without distinction of origin, opinion or belief and Article 10 of the European Court of Human Rights.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court of cassation nevertheless holds that the above mentioned prohibition from wearing the headscarf is not contrary to the December, 31th 1959 Act related to the private educational establishments, given that it affects neither the neutrality of the education provided nor the pupils’ freedom of conscience. It only addresses a simple mean of conspicuous expression of those beliefs and is related to the management of the school and its educational project. It does not infringe its obligation to welcome the children without any distinction of origin, opinion and belief. Finally, the Court deems that the right to freely manifest one’s religion, entrenched in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights is not absolute and must be conciliated with other imperatives.

See the decision: Court of cassation, 2005-06-21 , n. 02-19831.