A veiled woman walks past a soldier patrolling in a street of Roubaix, northern France, January 13, 2015. AFP/PHILIPPE HUGUEN
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Is a long, black skirt a "conspicuous" sign of Islam?The outrage over the case of a Muslim girl who was twice banned from class for wearing the offending piece of clothing highlights the headache teachers face in interpreting France's treasured ban on religion in school, experts and officials say.In 2004, spooked that the growing number of Muslim girls wearing headscarves in public schools was eroding this separation, the government brought in a controversial secularity law that banned students from wearing "conspicuous" signs of religion such as veils, Jewish skullcaps or crucifixes.Sociologist Jean Bauberot, who took part in a commission of experts debating secularity ahead of the 2004 law, said he and other members at the time had warned that any accessory or outfit could eventually be given religious significance.
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