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August 26th, 2004
Young, Muslim, and French
Timeline: French Secularism
1789 The French Revolution ends the Catholic Church’s domination over the state.
1801 Napoleon makes peace with the Catholic Church under the Concordat. The agreement brought the Church under state auspices, but confined it to religious matters.
1905 Amidst renewed anti-clericalism, a law on separation of church and state is passed.
1937 Schools are instructed to keep religious symbols out of the classroom.
1989 Two Muslim girls refuse to abide to their school’s rule and remove their headscarves. The French Court of Appeals ruled that religious signs are allowed in schools as long as they are not “obtrusive.”
1994 Education minister says schools can ban “ostentatious” signs.
July 2003 President Jacques Chirac establishes a commission on secularism. Bernard Stasi is named president of the commission.
December 2003 The Stasi commission recommends all “conspicuous” religious symbols be barred from schools.
Spring 2004 French parliament votes to exclude religious symbols from schools, including headscarves, large crosses, and yarmulkes.
September 2004 The ban on religious symbols is to take effect at the beginning of the school year.

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