France’s minister of national education has expressed support for adding Arabic language classes to the school curriculum for French children, enraging the country’s conservatives who have warned of the dire consequences if the plan goes ahead.
RT France should draw up a “qualitative strategy” for teaching Arabic language in schools, Jean-Michel Blanquer said during an interview on French television. He insisted that Arabic, along with Chinese and Russian, is one of the “great languages of civilization” and should be learned “not only by people of Maghrebi origin or Arabic-speaking countries.”
Blanquer’s comments were made in response to a report authored by the Montaigne Institute, a Paris-based think tank, which found that middle and high school students learning Arabic have increasingly turned to religious schools that teach radical Salafism – a branch of Islamic that advocates for the imposition of Sharia law.
The report called on the French government to incorporate Arabic into the public school curriculum in order to counter the political and religious indoctrination taught at these Salafi schools.
Robert Menard, the right-wing mayor of the town of Beziers, didn’t mince words when he decried Blanquer’s suggestion as a “project with incalculable consequences.” “To develop the teaching of Arabic in school and to ‘give prestige’ is to legitimize the birth of another nation within France,”Menard tweeted. Apparently, he was not alone in his anger.
In a normal country, immigrants are asked to integrate, especially by learning the national language. In our country, the Minister of Education wants French children to learn Arabic,” wrote Antoine Baudino, a legislative staffer for the vocally anti-immigrant National Rally party.