Toulouse rabbi told to remove kippah at voting station


(JTA) — The chief rabbi of Toulouse filed a complaint with police for discrimination after an election inspector demanded he remove his kippah at the ballot.

Avraham Weill filed the complaint on Thursday in connection with an incident that occurred Sunday, the France 3 television channel reported.

When Weill entered the Ecole du Nord school in Toulouse to vote in the first round of France’s regional elections, a volunteer inspector affiliated with the Community Party told him he needed to remove his kippah, citing the need to uphold “the [voting] station’s neutrality.”

Weill was allowed to vote at the insistence of other inspectors who intervened after Weill protested the Communist delegate’s decision, which Weill deemed discriminatory. The chairwoman of the voting station, who has the authority to overrule other inspectors, was absent when Weill came to vote, the report said.

The Communist delegate is a female teacher, France 3 reported. The local branch of the Communist Party said in a statement that “far from an altercation or incident, this is a case of incorrect interpretation of the law” on voting, the television channel reported.

Weill said he felt humiliated in front of his 4-year-old son, whom he brought with him to the voting station.

France’s law forbids voters to bring political propaganda to the voting stations, but does not forbid religious attire or signs.

France has robust legislation separating religion and state, a concept known in French as Laicite.

Weill told France 3 he reminded the election inspector that Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had not asked him to remove his kippah on March 19, when Weill attended the third annual commemoration for the four victims of an Islamist who in 2012 killed four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

During the ceremony, Weill was among the cosignatories of a document advocating tolerance, titled “Chart of Laicite.”

Recommended from JTA