France to stop funding biggest Muslim high school amid fear of wider crackdown | World News - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

France to stop funding biggest Muslim high school amid fear of wider crackdown

Reuters |
Dec 12, 2023 12:35 AM IST

Private school Averroes, the first Muslim high school to open in mainland France in 2003 in the northern city of Lille, has more than 800 pupils.

France is to end funding for its biggest Muslim high school on the grounds of administrative failures and questionable teaching practices, a local official said on Monday, the latest in what some rights groups say is a wider crackdown on Muslims.

Representational picture(AFP)
Representational picture(AFP)

Private school Averroes, the first Muslim high school to open in mainland France in 2003 in the northern city of Lille, has more than 800 pupils and has been under contract with the state since 2008. Pupils follow the regular French curriculum, and are also offered religion classes.

Hindustan Times - your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

But in an October report seen by Reuters, the interior ministry's local office said the school was suffering from administrative and financial dysfunction and that some teaching did not align with French republican values.

The interior ministry's local office declined to provide more details on the contract termination.

ALSO READ| Hostages drugged, psychologically abused in Gaza, says Israeli doctor

Many Muslims feel France - home to the largest Muslim population in Europe - has become more hostile towards them, especially after France suffered a string of deadly jihadist attacks in 2015.

In September, the education minister banned the abaya, the loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women, in public schools. Last year, a deportation order was given to an imam from the same area of northern France.

Averroes headmaster Eric Dufour said he had yet to receive notification from the interior ministry's local office, but that the school intended to challenge the decision in administrative court.

"When it comes to republican values, we do more than any other school," Dufour told Reuters last week in Lille, after he had been summoned to an education committee meeting in late November that made him fear the decision to end the school's contract was coming.

And a 2020 education ministry inspection report that Reuters reviewed said that "nothing in the observations ... allows (us) to think teaching practices don't respect republican values".

The ministry didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Headmaster Dufour said that without public funding, the school would be unable to meet its budget needs.

"We would have to double fees for every family to hold on, which is out of the question," he said.

Mohamed Daoudi said the main reason he chose Averroes for his 12-year-old son was its excellent results, and that he and other parents felt the interior ministry local office's decision was an injustice.

"It's really a witch-hunt," Daoudi said. "It's an injustice doubled with an insult."

A project director in the tech industry, Daoudi said he had lived abroad for 15 years and was ready to leave again if the school were to close.

"I would rather put my kids in public school in Canada," he said.

He added that he felt like it was part of a wider crackdown on France's Muslim minority. "We do everything by the book, and we are still being pestered."

Unlock a world of Benefits with HT! From insightful newsletters to real-time news alerts and a personalized news feed – it's all here, just a click away! - Login Now! Get Latest World News along with Latest News from India at Hindustan Times.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On