School principal resigns after receiving death threats in hijab row

French politicians from across the spectrum Wednesday expressed dismay over the resignation of a Paris school principal who had received death threats after asking a student to remove her Muslim veil on the premises.

In a show of support, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, a former education minister, was set to receive the principal later Wednesday, his office said.

Secularism in France

Secularism and religion are hot-button issues in France, which is home to Europe's largest Muslim community.

In 2004, authorities banned school children from wearing "signs or outfits by which students ostensibly show a religious affiliation" such as headscarves, turbans or kippas on the basis of the country's secular laws which are meant to guarantee neutrality in state institutions.

The headmaster's departure comes amid deep tensions in the country following a series of incidents including the killing of a teacher by an Islamist former pupil last year.

The headmaster at the Maurice-Ravel lycee in eastern Paris quit after receiving death threats online following an altercation with a student last month, officials told French news agency AFP on Tuesday.

In late February, he had asked three students to remove their Islamic headscarves on school premises, but one of them refused and an altercation ensued, according to prosecutors. He later received death threats online.

According to a school letter sent to teachers, pupils and parents on Tuesday, the principal stood down for "security reasons", while education officials said he had taken "early retirement".

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