Muslim pupils and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system that teachers should rebuff by explaining the country’s secular principles, according to an official report.
Reuters (H/T Susan K) — The High Council for Integration (HCI) reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and “reject French culture and its values.”
Teachers often faced objections when they taught courses about world religions, the Holocaust or France’s war in Algeria, or discussed events related to Israel and the Palestinians or American military actions in Muslim countries, the study said.
“Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity,” it said. “Some think it amounts to evangelisation.”
“Anti-Semitism … surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films” about Nazi concentration camps, it said. “Tensions often come from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims.”
Teachers found they could discuss the trans-atlantic slave trade but met criticism from pupils when they brought up the history of slavery within Africa or in the Middle East.
In some areas with large immigrant populations, many pupils shun school cafeterias for religious reasons, even though most offer alternative dishes when pork is on the menu. “Demand for halal menus is strong, even for the very young in public crèches,” it said. “In some cities, there are petitions for halal.”
The report stressed the state could allow alternatives to pork but could not allow halal meals because the price for ritually slaughtered meat included a tax paid to religious organisations that certify the food was properly prepared. “The school cannot, in this sense, participate in the religious education of its pupils or conform to principles that it does not recognise,” the report said.
France allows private religious schools and the number of Jewish schools has risen in recent years. There are few Muslim schools and most parents would have difficulty paying tuition. (Because they are all living off the state?)
During Ramadan, some Muslim pupils harass others who don’t observe the annual daytime fast, it said. Boys who identify themselves as Muslims and reject French values harass girls who do well in class as “collaborators” with the “dirty French.”
Some girls ask to be excused from gymnasium or pool sessions because they are not supposed to mix with boys, it added.
The report said French schools must insist on co-education, equal rights and mutual respect. “Being a French citizen means accepting challenges to one’s opinions … this is the price to pay for the freedom of opinion and expression.
“Must we recall that the crime of blasphemy has not existed in France since the French Revolution?” it asked.
“The principle of secularism leads to a profound relativisation of religion. This is a philosophical upheaval that religions only consent to with difficulty,” it said. (Get rid of the Muslims. Problem solved)