Answering the question on whether a ban on headscarves should be introduced in higher education institutes, he said that “it should.” However, he noted that the current constitution makes such a move difficult.
His statements immediately caused a backlash among other socialist politicians.
“There is no need for a law on the headscarf at university,” Thierry Mandon, the higher education minister, claimed, pointing out that this piece of clothing is not banned anywhere else in French society.
"Our universities also have a lot of foreign students,” she added. “Are we going to ban them access because in their culture there's a certain type of clothing?"
The Muslim headscarf debate has been ongoing in France for many years. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who restricted the wearing of niqabs (a face veil covering all but the eyes) in public places in France, spoke in favor of banning headscarves.allowed its female crewmembers to avoid working on flights to Iran, a country where headscarves are required anywhere off the aircraft.
Valls said that Islam, the second-most popular religion in France, must be “fundamentally compatible with the Republic, democracy, our values and equality between men and women."
"Certain people don't want to believe it, a majority of French citizens doubt it, but I'm convinced that it's possible," he said of conforming Islam with French values.
Commenting on the interview, a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Abdallah Zekri, claimed that Valls statements represent "populist discourse which is worse than the far-right."