The secular nature of France's public school system is being undercut by some Muslim students and parents, according to a new report issued by the High Council for Integration (HCI), a French government agency which monitors the integration of foreign residents.
HCI officials visited more than 200 schools during the past few months and met with education staff involved in teaching foreign residents. The agency's French-language report, entitled "Taking up the Challenges of Integration in Schools," paints a troubling picture with regard to the education of Muslims in France. The report, summarized in this account published by Hudson-New York, suggests that an atmosphere of intimidation fostered by Islamists has rendered numerous important subjects off-limits in French schools.
Muslim parents and pupils are pressuring educators into silence about the Holocaust and Christianity, the HCI report said. "Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity."
According to the HCI report, "anti-Semitism surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films" about Nazi concentration camps. "Tensions often come from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims," the report added.
While teachers are able to discuss the trans-Atlantic slave trade without disruption, they face harsh criticism when they bring up the history of slavery in Africa or the Middle East. During Ramadan, some Muslim students harass others who fail to observe the daytime fast, and Muslim youths who reject French values harass girls who do well in class, calling them "collaborators" with the "dirty French."
Illiteracy is very high among Muslim immigrants, the report noted. Some of them begin primary school with a vocabulary of just 400 words, compared to 1,500 for children from native French families. Many immigrant parents arrive with little or no education and have little interest in having their children obtain a "French" education.
The study suggests that many teachers are demoralized by the knowledge that their classroom efforts to integrate Muslim children into French life are being undermined when the children go home at night. Teachers are forced to alter lesson plans due to threats and violence from children, undermining efforts to impose discipline in general.
Read the Hudson Institute's full report on the HCI findings here.