PARIS - Plans by French President Francois Hollande to impose further restrictions on the wearing of hijab in public are sparking deep fears among Muslims about their future in the southern European country.
I can't work in public institutions, and now I can't work in private institutions, Algerian graduate student Souad told Al-Arabiya website on Wednesday, April 10.
What is my future?
In my opinion, this is a disastrous law.
Worries have gripped French Muslims after Hollande reiterated support to a cross-party move to extend the ban on the wearing of hijab to the private sector.
The move followed a ruling by France's top court that the dismissal of a Muslim woman from a private nursery school for refusing to remove her hijab amounted to "religious discrimination".
The French government criticized the verdict, with Interior Minister Manuel Valls describing the ruling as putting secularism into question.
The Muslims here are French too, and we are proud of their presence, Socialist Party MP Olivier Four told Al-Arabiya.
But I agree with the president on the importance of issuing a law that will block the right wing from promoting a complete ban on headscarves.
France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places in 2004.
Several European countries followed the French example.
France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.
A poll by the French marketing and opinion center BVA last month found that the majority of French support imposing tougher laws on the wearing of hijab in France.
In October, a poll by Ifop's opinion department found that almost half of French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity.
The poll also found that most French see Islam is playing too influential role in their society.
Muslim leaders have warned of repercussions of imposing further restrictions on hijab wearing in France.
The balance is living our religious life in freedom and dignity and at the same time avoiding anything that may provoke the other, Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the umbrella French Council of Muslim Faith, said.
France is home to a Muslim minority of six millions, Europe's largest.
Muslims and their customs and traditions have been under the spotlight in recent years in France.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy had adopted a series of measures to restrict Muslim freedoms in an effort to win support of far-right voters.
Under Sarkozy, the French government had held a national debate on the role of Islam in French society.
The French government has also outlawed Muslim street prayers, a sight far-right leader Marine Le Pen likened to the Nazi occupation.Muslims have also complained of restrictions on building mosques to perform their daily prayers.