Excerpt:

France is embroiled in a fresh row over the state's attitude to the Muslim headscarf after the Socialist minister for women's rights expressed support for banning students from wearing veils at French universities.

In a video for Le Figaro, Pascale Boistard was asked if she was against the wearing of headscarves at university, and said that she was. Asked if the government should take formal measures, she said it was up to university presidents to talk to students about the issue, but added: "I'm not sure the headscarf is part of higher education."

Her comments come as Nicolas Sarkozy, the right-wing former president seeking to run again in 2017, proposed a headscarf ban in universities despite opposition from certain figures within his UMP party. Earlier this month Éric Ciotti, a UMP MP, proposed a law to ban the headscarf from higher education, while opponents accused mainstream conservatives of trying to chase after voters from the far right.


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