Paris (AFP)

"An unfortunate mistake": Jean-Michel Blanquer on Tuesday blasted a CIPF campaign poster defending the right of mothers veiled to go on school trips, attracting in return the criticism of the first federation of parents of students.

"We were many, I think, to be saddened by seeing a federation of parents of students known in our country do a poster campaign around veiled moms at school," said the Minister of Education. National Education opens a seminar at Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris.

"On the legal side, it is quite possible for a mother to be veiled, however, we never said it was to encourage," he said.

Critic of Mr. Blanquer's policy, the CIPF internally released a campaign poster for the Parent Teacher Election where a veiled mother and daughter appear next to "Yes" , I go on school outing, so what?

"This federation of parents of students was based on secularism so it is extremely paradoxical, I think it is a mistake," had earlier condemned the minister.

Angry, Rodrigo Arenas, co-president of the CIPF, lamented that this poster is "exploited by far-right networks" and Laurent Bouvet, controversial founder of the Republican Printemps and holding a strict secularism.

"The minister, he has set a precedent: it has clearly interfered in an election of parents of students," denounced Rodrigo Arenas, who also announced his intention to file a complaint against Mr. Bouvet for "incitement to hate "against Muslim parents.

Some politicians have reacted. "I can tell you very simply that if tomorrow we forbid women who wear the headscarf to go on school trips (in Seine-Saint-Denis, Ed), there will simply no longer school trips," said the MP LFI Clémentine Autain.

The MEP and Vice-President of the National Assembly Jordan Bardella, he said that "there is no small capitulation to Islamism: they are all serious, dangerous and inexcusable".

The law of 17 March 2004 prohibits conspicuous religious symbols (headscarves, kippa, etc.) in public schools. The debate then moved on the subject of mothers accompanying school trips, a circular from Education Minister Luc Chatel in 2012 asking them not to wear ostentatious religious symbols.

In 2013, the Council of State considered that veiled mothers accompanying school trips are not subject to the "requirements of religious neutrality".

Opponents of the ban believe that its only consequence would be to move these mothers away from school, while one of the factors of academic success is precisely the involvement of parents.

Tuesday, Jean-Michel Blanquer also made a point on the attacks on secularism at school. Some 900 incidents were reported between April and July at the school (against 1,000 a year earlier), which led to 250 interventions by rectorate teams.

In detail, it is in college that tensions remain the most numerous, with 44% of reports. High school is less concerned, with 19% of cases. On the other hand, there is an increase in primary schools (37% of cases).

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