In 2004, France passed a law banning religious symbols from public schools. Although the law doesn't explicitly target a particular religious group, critics accused the government of discriminating against France's growing Muslim population and, in particular, Muslim girls who wear the traditional headscarf known as "hijab."
The so-called "headscarf ban" raised difficult questions about religious tolerance, cultural assimilation, and the separation of church and state. 12 years later, those questions are far from resolved, not only in France but around the world.
Now, a new film called Mariam invites viewers to see the law through the eyes of a student directly affected by the ban. Mariam, the film's title character, considers hijab an expression of her personal faith and, by extension, her identity. Removing her veil means compromising that identity, but leaving it on could jeopardize her education and future success.
If you were in Mariam's position, which would you choose: your identity, or an education? Mariam's decision might surprise you.
Director Faiza Ambah recently visited Global Citizen to discuss the film. Watch the video above to find out what inspired Ambah to tell this story, then go to iTunes to see the film.