A student of a French high school was threatened with expulsion after he refused to comply with the headmaster’s demand to shave his beard, which the headmaster considered a “sign of radicalization.”
“You cut it or you leave,” the headmaster reportedly told the student. The head teacher also reportedly claimed that the student’s beard is an apparent “sign of radicalization.”
When the headmaster first asked the student to shave or shorten his facial hair, the young man, 21, explained that he had been cultivating his beard for two years for religious reasons.
“The Prophet [Muhammed] was wearing one. It is something important to me,” the student, who wanted to remain unidentified out of fear of “being stigmatized even more.”
He also added that the head teacher’s “threats put pressure” on him and he “ended up” writing a letter to inform him that he was leaving the school. According to Le Parisien, the student has not attended school since October 13.
“He [the headmaster] gave me a few days for reflection to see if I change my mind and shave [the beard]… but I will not!” the student said. The student, who is a son of an atheist and a non-practicing Muslim, also admitted that he used to miss classes to go to Friday prayers, and said that he avoided shaking hands with his schoolmates for reasons of “decency.”
He also said that he used to wear harem pants – a sort of clothing common among Muslims – but stopped wearing them at headmaster’s request, as he agreed that it could be a religious sign. However, he still defends his right to sport a beard.
“I am not the only one with a beard, both among students and teachers,” he said. In the meantime, the young man received support from his classmates. “It looks like it was the parents who complained to the headmaster. Everything is mixed up!” one girl said.
The incident took place in the Parisian northern suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, where some of the terrorists, who were involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015, were living.