French Muslims Find Refuge In… Catholic Schools?

The NYT recently covered the rising admission of Muslim students in Catholic schools, unsurprisingly, because there is a greater freedom to practice their faith in Catholic school than in “secular” public schools:

French Sikhs Protest Religious Ban

There is respect for our religion here, said Nadia Oualane, 14, a student of Algerian descent who wears her hair hidden under a black head scarf. In the public school, she added, gesturing at nearby buildings, I would not be allowed to wear a veil.

The experience of French Muslims mimics the crushing oppression that Sikhs and other religious minorities face under France’s harsh and discriminatory anti-religious policies:

The quiet migration of Muslims to private Catholic schools highlights how hard it has become for state schools, long Frances tool for integration, to keep their promise of equal opportunity…

Imam Bencheikhs oldest daughter attends Catholic school. Its ironic, he said, but today the Catholic Church is more tolerant of and knowledgeable about Islam than the French state.

In a recent state meeting between the French and Indian PMs, Sarkozy and Singh, respectively, reporters used the opportunity to reopen the question of how the religious ban has impacted Sikhs. Sarkozy ignored the disparate impact of the ban by claiming that its uniform application meant it had no discriminatory intent [Hat tip, Tejinder]:

Visibly irritated, Sarkozy continued, “But sir, we have rules, rules concerning the neutrality of civil servants, rules concerning secularism, and these rules don’t apply only to Sikhs, they apply to Muslims or others. They apply to all on the territory of the French Republic.”

His comments, however, about the universal nature of this ban are contradicted by his Minister of National Education, who indicates that there is an explicitly anti-hijab and anti-Muslim intent behind this policy:

The head scarf is a sexist sign, and discrimination between the sexes has no place in the republican school, Frances minister of national education, Xavier Darcos, said in a telephone interview. That is the fundamental reason why we are against it.

Muslim enrollment in Catholic schools is facilitated, in part, by marginally “freer” religious practice options, but also by the idea of a shared Abrahamanic history and God. Where do Sikhs find refuge, both in the context of education and religious practice, given their distinct history, practice, and interaction with Judeo-Christian institutions? France’s ban has been decried by human rights organizations and religious organizations, but little positive action has taken place against the ban. Indeed, in some cases the State’s reaction seems retaliatory.


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10 Responses to “French Muslims Find Refuge In… Catholic Schools?”

  1. Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

    The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

    Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture–the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.

    Iftikhar Ahmad

  2. Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

    The right to education in ones own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

    Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture–the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
    Iftikhar Ahmad

  3. Camille says:

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  4. Camille says:

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  5. justasikh says:

    I wonder if Mr. Sarkozy is aware of the Turbaned Sikhs buried in France, who fought in France, for the freedom of France, in both World Wars.

    Obviously they should go too.

  6. justasikh says:

    I wonder if Mr. Sarkozy is aware of the Turbaned Sikhs buried in France, who fought in France, for the freedom of France, in both World Wars.

    Obviously they should go too.

  7. Teachers should take students to historical places to know about its historical background and to know about famous personalities. They should also study the ancient or medieval history to gain knowledge in depth.

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