According to French media reports, a 15-year-old French Muslim girl was banned from her class twice for wearing a skirt that was too long, and therefore supposedly a conspicuous display of religion. France's state secularism has led to very strict laws prohibiting students from wearing overtly religious symbols in institutions of education.
The student, identified as Sarah, already apparently removed her headscarf before entering the school, in accordance with French law. But her long skirt was deemed a "provocation," and potential act of protest.
"The girl was not excluded, she was asked to come back with a neutral outfit," a local official in the northeastern French town of Charleville-Mezieres, near the border with Belgium, told the AFP.
The news sparked an outcry on social media, with commentators remarking on the hypocrisy and bigotry lurking beneath Sarah's treatment. On Twitter, the hashtag #JePorteMaJuppeCommeJeVeux ("I wear my skirt as I like") trended.
One Twitter user set Sarah's skirt against those worn by three other white public figures:
Others made gestures to the United States:
The user above quips that Michelle Obama's dress is "unworthy of the Republic."
Critics of France's secularist laws in schools say they often thinly conceal a widespread bias against Muslims and immigrants in French society. Studies have revealed how Muslims face systematic discrimination on the basis of their race, creed and culture.
Speaking to local newspaper L'Ardennais, Sarah said that her skirt was "nothing special, it’s very simple, there’s nothing conspicuous. There is no religious sign whatsoever."