PARIS: The French Senate approved by a large majority a bill banning hijab and other religious insignia in state schools on Wednesday, March 3. The proposal was adopted with 276 in favor and 20 against, despite the recent mass protests by the five-million-estimated Muslims and human rights at home and the appeal of some countries against the ban, BBC reported. French President Jacques Chirac has 15 days to sign into law the bill – adopted by the lower house last month by overwhelming majority, according to the BBC. Chirac said in a televised speech in December 2003 that the “Islamic veil” whatever name we give it – the kappa and a cross that is of plainly excessive dimensions” have no place in the precincts of state schools. ‘Powerful Signal’ French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told senators before the vote that the law did not aim to discriminate against religions but to ”send a powerful and quick signal”. Raffarin insisted the law was needed to contain the spread of what he called ”Muslim fundamentalism” and ensure that the principle of secularism on which France is based remains intact.