Muslim religious demands on French state schools rising: report

October 25, 2010

lyceeThe sometimes difficult integration of Muslims is climbing the ladder of public concerns in Europe. It’s been hotly debated in Germany and figured in recent elections in the Netherlands and Austria. Now, a French government body called the High Council for Integration (HCI) has drawn up a critical report about the problems faced by — and posed by — school pupils with immigrant backgrounds. It’s not only about Muslim pupils, but they are mentioned so frequently that it’s clear who’s mostly involved here.

(Photo: Lycée Condorcet in Paris,  27 June 2009/Juan Antonio Cordero)

Among its findings, the report says Muslim pupils and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system and that teachers should rebuff these demands by explaining the country’s principle of laïcité, the official separation of church and state. Among the problems it listed were pupils who upset classes by objecting to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, who demand halal meals and generally “reject French culture and its values.”

For more of its findings, read our news report on the study here.

“It is becoming difficult for teachers to resist religious pressures,” said the report, posted in draft form (here in French) on the website of the newspaper Journal du Dimanche (JDD), which published an article in its paper edition entitled “School threatened by communalism.” “We should now reaffirm secularism and train teachers how to deal with specific problems linked to the respect for this principle,” it said. The final report will be presented to the government next month.

scarf teacherFrance has been here before. There was a long and lively debate about religion in schools before the parliament banned Muslim headscarves and other religious garb in state schools in 2004. There were two large official reports — the so-called Stasi report and a parliamentary report — on laïcité in the schools that focused on an increase in religious demands in state schools.

(Photo: A school administrator bars a pupil wearing a headscarf from entering school in Villeneuve D’ascq, northern France, September 2, 2004/Pascal Rossignol)

There was also a critical book called Les territoires perdus de la République” (The lost territories of the Republic) about rising anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils. After that, the issue was eclipsed by debates about full face veils and halal meat.

This study comes during the six-month period between France’s ban on full face veils and the imposition of that ban after a planned campaign to inform veiled women what awaits them once the prohibition is in full force. Patrick Gaubert, president of the HCI, told the JDD that his group would also soon put out “an assessment of our integration policy that will show our relative failure in this domain.”

Gaubert gave an interesting answer in the JDD interview to the question about what surprised him most during almost 200 sessions of hearings for the study. “The people we met were participants in the system,” he said. “We were surprised to see that they recounted their daily experiences to us quite well, but never communicated among themselves. I must say that that seems to be a mistake we can find on the level of the state. Administrations, sometimes even ministries, handle the same subjects but don’t talk to each other. That would at least create links among all these good intentions. The inter-ministerial council for integration, which has not met since 2006, should be reactivated.”

While it’s interesting that this report mentions all these problems, I’d really like to see some empirical data about how many pupils or how many schools are involved. I don’t doubt there are problems in the schools, but this vague way of talking about them means they can either be exaggerated or ignored, depending on how you want to spin the anecdotes that come out. And simply repeating earlier calls for more laïcité doesn’t sound like a fresh an innovative way to tackle a perceived failure of the system. If the problems are as serious as this report says, ignoring them will only make them worse. Debating them every five years or so and forgetting about them in between hardly seems a better a way to deal with them either.

 Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld


17 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

[...] Read More: Muslim religious demands on French state schools rising: report (Reuters) [...]

Yes if you are going to ignore the demands of other religions, then you are to ignore the demands of Islam. But this is where the intimidation comes in, isn’t it??? Do the Christians or Jews threaten violence of they are not heard???

Posted by RealGreyGhost | Report as abusive

The French government must make the rules of state versus the rules of religion. Their can be no compromise of the concept, or the everyday administration of rules of law. It isn’t that it is a hardline position, but it is a big part of the French nation. If the muslims can circumvent the rules on separation of state and religion, then the French Constitution will no longer have meaning. This means that people who have migrated to France have an increasing role in the political control of the country, and this is a dangerous position to be in with the Muslim religion. The lack of separation between the State and religion would bring questions of allegiance to the government of France. This is why it would become necessary to deal with the education problem now, than later, when the stakes will be much higher. It is possible, if rules are just rules to be ignored, when dealing with political religions, the it won’t be long until a theology is replacing a secular government in France. This would be a shock to the outside world of France, and it would dissolve any elements of trust between France and the EU, or France and NATO. In fact it could mean that the EU economy would be dysfunctional, and that the military in France would be hamstrung by religious view points. Overall the Muslim religion has done very little in this world to provide stability, and has done everything it can do to bond with war and terrorism. If the voice of reason is a Muslim tradition, then why has the West seen so little of it in the Middle East, and in immigrating people to countries that are like France. In my opinion, a voice of moderation it doesn’t really exist in practice, but it is given lip service by the Muslim religion. The stated objective of the Muslim religion is change the religion of the infidels, or kill them. They want to purify the world. There is no tolerance for exceptions in the Muslim religion, and there should be no tolerance for a religion that try’s to take advantage of a democratic nation, when they have no belief in that democratic system. It is ridiculous to assume that either change, or assimilation will occur in France, or any other wetern style country.

Posted by framefiller | Report as abusive

There should not be and cannot be a forced Islamic cow towing by our public schools to bend over and meet demands of Muslim pupils and their parents. US public schools are not going to be the formation zone for Muslim principles, values, cultures or food preferences. If Muslim parents want their children to be immersed in that way of learning, then they have the right to home school their children and should do so.
As much as the whole diversity thing is drilled into our heads as something we must do, there is a point when encouraging the voices of the many different backgrounds our students come from crosses the line into over zealous infiltration and obnoxious attempts to alter systems of goodness and balance.If any Muslim parent chooses to not have their child embrace the American school curriculum, tell them to bug off and pull their kid out of the district and dedicate the time to home schooling them. Either they learn to blend into our society or they can go back to somewhere outside the USA where they feel more comfortable. Bye bye.

Posted by BGoldberg | Report as abusive

Religion in all it’s forms has nothing to do with education but rather everything to do with indoctrination and brain washing.

Posted by libertadormg | Report as abusive

Once again France will submit as they did under Hitler. The French pride seem to have died after the Revolution. So sad for such a beautiful country. A Country is to be a haven for all. If those who follow the Muslim religion and choose to have the country they are living in to be practicing their faith, then they should live in a Muslim country and to my knowledge, France is not a Muslim country, but…………………

Posted by 1VOICEHEARD | Report as abusive

Isn’t it ironic that the the Battle of Tours (732 CE) stopped the spread of Islam conquerors in France.

Posted by Psychologue | Report as abusive

Could a Muslim, please, explain why it is that Muslims leave their own countries (where Islam is in control of government policies) and move to countries where they already know secularism is in place? If they love Islam, so much, then, why not stay in a country that espouses it as a way of life and politics?!

Ironically, if a Christian were to immigrate to a Muslim country and make similar religious demands, he/she could be executed for blasphemy and/or proselytizing the Christian religion.

It’s mystifying how Muslims insist upon tolerance of their religion, yet, do not tolerate views that are opposite to their own. For example, in protesting the teaching of the Holocaust, in French schools, Muslims are preventing freedom of speech, which is the essence of a democracy and the opportunity for all people to have a free and frank exchange of ideas.

Posted by skytrooper70 | Report as abusive

Islam – the face of Evil, Death & Ignorance

Posted by jackdanielsesq | Report as abusive

the very notion that these questions of ‘laicité’ are being questioned by immigrant communities lays bare the fact that they don’t approve of it and feel a need to impose their idea of ‘religion’ upon the public. until these communities come to accept the idea of ‘laicité’ and realize that it allows them to continue to practice their religion in a secure environment the sooner there will be a calmer environment in the public arena. the idea that religious zealots want to impose their practices on everyone (à la ISIS) is because they see it as a threat to their practice, knowing full well that advanced and successful secular societies are very attractive to intelligent youngsters who want to have purpose in their lives and enjoy the benefits of a modern society. france ‘laicité’ may reject religion but permits its citizens to practice one. it is up to the practitioners to live in the dual world of ‘religion’ and ‘laicité’ and if they have enough confidence in their religion they will be able to do so; if not, they should emigrate to where their religion is also the rule of the land. france should withstand these pressures to adapt to the religious minority and there is no need to explain. france has already passed the era where religion led to internal strife and aggression and does not see any reason to relive those terrible days.

Posted by grasspress | Report as abusive

I am afraid France is a lost cause. Having turned a blind eye for so long and pretended “its not happening – it couldn’t, could it?” it is now too late – France will be a Muslim majority country within 50 years. Long before that, a ridiculous alliance of Cultural Marxists and Muslims will further Islamificy the country with the expansion of Sharia courts, changes to education etc. Other countries such as Belgium and Holland are not far behind.

Posted by AJcoop77 | Report as abusive

If Muslims don’t like the school systems of the European countries they voluntarily chose to live in, they are free to emigrate to any Islamic country of their choice. Actually, we should encourage and applaud any such decision, maybe even pick up the cost of relocation.

Posted by RayTaylor | Report as abusive

The West has a basic freedom credo. Sharia law does not exist here. Muslims can open up their own private schools to teach Koran or beheading. Meanwhile, if the state is footing the bill, no veils, gang colors or religion in public.
Muslims could help authorities by reporting terrorist behavior, but that would isolate them from their communities. Ergo, we are not safe because of it. And they want OUR help?

Posted by Doc62 | Report as abusive

Dear Western Europe: Don’t expect sympathy from Serbs and other Balkan Orthodox Christians concerning your problems with Muslims. You actively supported Mujahadeen, Bosnian and Albanian Islamists against the Serbs in a way that was hateful, treacherous and criminal. Now it’s your turn – you can kiss our ass!

Posted by Fillanthropy | Report as abusive

It’s called separation of church and state. It should not be teachers explaining separation of church and state over and over again, up close and personal to fundamentalist extremists trying to force their religious beliefs on all. It should be the gov’t, and all teachers and administrators should be able to simply refer all such extremist efforts to take over to a central gov’t agency.

Posted by DellStator | Report as abusive

As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness:

United States — Muslim 1.0%
Australia — Muslim 1.5%
Canada — Muslim 1.9%
China — Muslim 1%-2%
Italy — Muslim 1.5%
Norway — Muslim 1.8%

At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:

Denmark — Muslim 2%
Germany — Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
Spain — Muslim 4%
Thailand — Muslim 4.6%

From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population.

They will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. (United States ).

France — Muslim 8%
Philippines — Muslim 5%
Sweden — Muslim 5%
Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad &Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

Posted by Truthpain | Report as abusive

For those lacking some very basic history, it was around 700 A.D. — fully 1300 years ago — that the French leader (not officially a king) Charles Martel turned back the armies of Islam from conquering France, and thereby preventing Muslims from ultimately destroying Christianity in Europe. A very, very big deal. (The Muslims hung on in Spain until almost 1500, another 800 years, before the Christians pushed them back into North Africa.)

In short, the entire history of French culture in all its significance was premised on that nation’s role in stopping and rolling back the Muslim conquest of the world when that seemed inevitable. If the French don’t understand what’s at stake today and fight even one-hundredth as hard as their ancestors did to keep hold of their heritage against a Muslim onslaught, they deserve to lose and see their language and famed civilizing traditions dumped on. Paris was famous for centuries as the capital of a tolerant and enlightened world civilization, and also as the capital of sexual and romantic love. A couple of things Islam will crush out like a cigarette butt.

French stupidity knows no limits. The Arabs threw them out of Algeria. Instead of just going home, cutting ties, and understanding it was for the best, the French allowed a huge percentage of the Algerian (and other North African Muslim) population to move to France and settle the score by literally conquering the place from the native population. When France imposed European culture on Algeria it was called “colonialism” and everybody booed it. So what do you call it when a backward and barbaric people take over a civilized country?

Posted by From_California | Report as abusive

“If Muslims don’t like the school systems of the European countries they voluntarily chose to live in, they are free to emigrate to any Islamic country of their choice.”

Yes, there are daily non-stop flights from Paris to Saudi Arabia. These tickets are even half priced as they only need a one-way ticket. All their complaints are contentedly solved at destination.

Posted by Montpessat | Report as abusive

[…] Muslim religious demands on French state schools rising: report […]