London, May 9: A 16-year-old Catholic girl who converted to Islam has been banned from attending a school in France for wearing a long skirt that was deemed an "ostentatious religious symbol" by the headmaster.
The skirt -- popular among some Muslim women -- reached beyond her knees and down to her sneakers, the Nouvel Obs newspaper reported.
The headmaster of the Seine-et-Marne school, in the outer suburbs of Paris, reportedly deemed that the skirt "conspicuously" showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France's strict secularity laws.
According to the 2004 law that governs secularity in schools, veils, the Jewish kippa or large Christian crosses are all banned in educational establishments, but "discreet religious signs" are allowed. The mother of the teenage girl has lodged her complaint with the school authorities, The Local France reported.
A meeting is to be held at the school with the girl's parents to try to resolve the dispute. "Yes, my daughter, who is Franco-Portuguese and from a Catholic family, has converted to Islam," Marie-Christine de Sousa was quoted as saying. "I've always supported her choices and decisions.
Earlier this year, I allowed her to wear the veil, which she takes off before going into the school. She wears long dresses for school," she said.
The family of the girl is already planning legal action, the paper reported. France was rocked by a similar case in April last year when a girl with a long skirt was also barred from class. "Wearing a long skirt is nothing ostentatious.
This is more due to mass hysteria," Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, had said at the time.