Friday, January 21

Muslim girl sent home by school in France over long skirt



The headteacher of the school in Montereau-Fault-Yonne told the 16-year-old that the length of her skirt meant that it was an “ostentatious religious symbol” – something forbidden in state schools in France since 2004.

A meeting will be held at the school with the pupil’s parents to try to resolve the dispute, following a rash of similar incidents in other French schools last year.

Long skirts if worn as a fashion statement are allowed in French schools. Long skirts worn as sign of allegiance to Islam or any other religion – may fall foul of the 2004 law which enforces the principle that state schools are secular.

The council of state, the final arbiter of the meaning of French laws, has been asked to rule on the “long skirt” issue but has not yet done so.

The girl has been named only as K De Sousa, French of Portuguese origin. She converted to Islam, with the blessing of her family, a year ago. The French education system investigated whether she was part of a radical Islamic movement and decided she was not.

Her mother Marie-Christine de Sousa told French magazine L’Obs: “My daughter respects the law. I respect her religion. Until now, the school has made no comment on the way she dresses.

“Apart from chattering in class, she has no problems and doesn’t say much about her conversion. People shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

K De Sousa wears a headscarf in public but takes it off when she reaches school, as the 2004 law demands. The law was enacted after a series of rows in French schools about the wearing of headscarves. It was broadened to ban all “ostentatious religious symbols” to avoid seeming to stigmatise Islam.

A handful of schools in France have begun to interpret long skirts won by Muslim girls as a religious symbol. Most do not.

The education board covering K De Sousa’s school admitted that dialogue between the school and her family had “not gone entirely serenely”.

“Talks will resume on Monday,” a spokesman said.

“It is in everyone’s interest that this young woman should pursue her schooling normally. A long dress or skirt is not, in itself, a motive for excluding a pupil.”

But a nine-digit combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols would take over a thousand years for somebody to run through enough possible combinations to find.

Better Buys, a software and technology business, has developed a tool estimating how long it would take for a hacker to crack a password using a so-called “brute force” attack – in which a computer program tries every single password combination before finding the correct one.

How to pick a password

According to the company, brute force software in 2016 can attempt more than 13 million passwords, compared to less than 6 million a decade ago. Password-cracking software will also try the most obvious combinations first, so codes such as “123456”, “password” and “football” – among the world’s most commonly used – could all be discovered in 0.25 milliseconds. Many of the most powerful computers today, however, can check more than one billion combinations a second.

You can try the tool below. Warning: It’s a bad idea to enter your actual password. Although While Better Buys says it does not store any of the passwords, you should never provide your password anywhere it is not needed. Entering combinations of similar length and character mix should give an idea of how long it would take a brute force attack to guess your password. The tool is designed for educational purposes.

The test shows that both length and different characters significantly improve password security: moving from eight letters to nine would increase the time from four hours and 24 minutes to almost five days, while eight letters and a number would take almost three months.

Despite this, choosing a password by simply replacing letters with numbers, such as “c0mpu7er”, is not advised: more sophisticated password crackers than the one assumed in the interactive have learned to look for words with certain digits replaced by letters.

Most common passwords

1. 123456

2. password

3. 12345678

4. qwerty

5. 12345

6. 123456789

7. football

8. 1234

9. 1234567

10. baseball

11. welcome

12. 1234567890

13. abc123

14. 111111

15. 1qaz2wsx

16. dragon

17. master

18. monkey

19. letmein

20. login

21. princess

22. qwertyuiop

23. solo

24. passw0rd

25. starwars