France: Muslims in Catholic schools

The bright cafeteria of Saint Mauront Catholic school is conspicuously quiet: It is Ramadan and 80 percent of the students are Muslim. When the lunch bell rings, girls and boys stream out past the crucifixes and the large wooden cross in the corridor, heading for Muslim midday prayer.

"There is respect for our religion here," said Nadia Oualane, 14, her hair covered by a black headscarf.

"In the public school," she added, gesturing at nearby buildings, "I would not be allowed to wear a veil." Oualane, of Algerian descent, wants to be the first in her family to go to a university.

France has only four Muslim schools. So the 8,847 Roman Catholic schools have become a refuge for Muslims seeking what an overburdened, secularist public sector often lacks: spirituality, an environment in which good manners count alongside mathematics and higher academic standards.

There are no national statistics, but Muslim and Catholic educators estimate that Muslim students now form more than 10 percent of the two million students in Catholic schools. In ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Marseille and the industrial north, the share can be more than half.

The quiet migration to fee-paying Catholic schools highlights how hard it has become for state schools, long France's tool for integration, to keep their promise of equal opportunity - irrespective of color, creed or zip code.


Source: IHT (English)


Anonymous said...

"There is respect for our religion here." Too bad that's not a two-way street. said...

Magdi Allam was a student of a Chatolich School in Egypt. That they go mainly to Catholic School and not to Islamic School is good.
When they will come out, many will be well teached and learned, so they will have to choice to be real muslim or to have good jobs. Many will choose the latters. Many, also, will be able to compare the Catholic School with the Islamic Schools (and the State schools) and choose on the merits.

joe six-pack said...

Islam is a one-way street in a number of ways. Changing this has proven difficult. I have mixed feelings about this concept. I sure as heck hope it works.

Thanks for bringing this up. I want to keep an eye open on this. I believe this can be a valid indicator as to progress or failure in the important issue of change in Islamic ideology.

Anonymous said...

If things continue to go the way they're going in Europe they won't be able to teach anything about the Bible in these schools anyway, just as they can't put up a sign in the street in AMsterdam that says "thou shall not kill" and you can't teach that pigs exist because everything is offensive to Muslims. Saying that Christ wasn't Esau, that he was the son of God, and that he died on the cross offends Muslims, as do every one of the 10 Commandments and everything else in the Bible, since it contradicts what the Koran says about the Bible.

It really comes down, as Painlord said, to the questions of whether they want to be decent human beings and good students or whether they want to be Muslims. YOu can't follow a single Islamic teaching and not be a mentally ill, homicidal maniac slave-owner pervert pedophile who endlessly violates the human rights of every decent human you encounter, and you can't actually try to learn or engage in honest hard work either since you have to deny all of history, science, and unitary logic and you have to survive your entire life as a parasite. This is why Muslims can't make it in public schools.

I had a fantastic experience in Catholic high school. I loved learning about world religions. I think Muslims could certainly benefit from the type of education I received, which placed a huge emphasis on honest hard work, individual agency, planning for the future, and a well-rounded education. Learning about other faiths was incredibly interesting and useful in the long run. We were required to take classes in morality and service too, which are completely foreign concepts to Muslims and from which I think they could benefit. ANd it is true that people of other faiths, particularly Judaism and Hinduism, did receive more respect there than they probably would have in a public school, but Islam runs so contrary to Christianity, and given its intolerant and destructive nature, I can imagine Muslims ruining Catholic education just like everything else they set their eyes on.

Esther said...

There are Catholic schools with Jewish students, and I assume they follow the same rules as everybody, including prayer and theology lessons. Sometimes you put your faith aside and go to the school that gives better education.

In England there are Jewish schools with Muslim students too.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I realize that. I went to Catholic school because the public school I would have otherwise gone to was a police state that someone tried to burn down once a year. I was by no means raised Catholic. My mother is from WWII Rome and hates the Catholic Church in a way that I'll never understand. The Catholic school was small, close-by, and it was a prep school which actually did a great job at preparing me for college. They taught us religion but they never crammed Christianity down our throats. I actually took a class on the OT one semester, which was awesome. They never made us pray. We had moments of silence when the WTC was bombed and after Oklahoma City, but there was never prayer. We did do this New-Age-ey retreat thing our senior year, though.

Anonymous said...

I meant the first time the WTC was bombed. The world freaking shut down the second time.