According to a U.N. document, a United Nations committee concluded that France discriminated against a Muslim lady who was barred from attending vocational training in a public school while wearing her Islamic head scarf.

Naima Mezhoud, now 45, was scheduled to train as a management assistant in 2010 at a course held in a state high school, where minors are legally barred from wearing the hijab. According to the paper obtained by Reuters, when she arrived, the head teacher of the school on the northern outskirts of Paris prohibited her from entering.

Six years earlier, in 2004, France prohibited schoolchildren from wearing hijabs and other visible religious symbols in public schools. Mezhoud contended that the law should not have targeted her because she was a higher-education student.

According to the document, “The committee concludes that the refusal to allow (Mezhoud) to participate in the training while wearing her headscarf constitutes a gender and religious-based act of discrimination,”

A United Nations source confirmed the document’s authenticity.

The interior and foreign ministries did not reply quickly to requests for comment.

The implications of the United Nations verdict were not immediately evident. According to legal precedence, France is unlikely to comply with the committee’s judgment, according to freedom law expert Nicolas Hervieu of the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

France has one of the largest Muslim minorities in Europe. For years, the country has enacted legislation to safeguard its rigorous form of secularism, known as “laicité,” which President Emmanuel Macron has stated is under threat from Islamism.

Some Muslim organizations and human-rights organizations claim that these laws have targeted Muslims, eroded democratic safeguards, and left them vulnerable to abuse.

Mezhoud approached the United Nations Human Rights Committee after losing many appeals in French courts.

According to the committee, France violated paragraphs 18 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on religious freedom.

Sefen Guez Guez, Mezhoud’s lawyer, told Reuters that the ruling demonstrated that international human-rights organizations were critical of France’s anti-Islam policies.

“French institutions will have to comply with the U.N. decision,” he continued.

In theory, France now has six months to financially recompense Mezhoud and allow her the opportunity to pursue the practical training if she still desires. The country must also take efforts to ensure that similar violations of international law do not occur in the future.

Source: Reuters

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