Is a long, black skirt a "conspicuous" sign of Islam? Or is that pushing France's strict secularity laws a little too far?

The outrage over the case of a Muslim girl who was twice banned from class for wearing the offending piece of clothing highlights the headache teachers face in interpreting France's treasured ban on religion school, experts and officials say.

The country has a long-established secular tradition that has its roots in the anti-clericalism of the French revolution and a 1905 law enforcing a strict separation between church and state.

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