September 30, 2008

In France, Muslims prefer Catholic school.

The NYT reports:
“There is respect for our religion here,” said Nadia Oualane, 14, a student of Algerian descent who wears her hair hidden under a black head scarf. “In the public school,” she added, gesturing at nearby buildings, “I would not be allowed to wear a veil.”

In France, which has only four Muslim schools, some of the country’s 8,847 Roman Catholic schools have become refuges 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.
The ban on head scarves probably strikes most Americans as a terribly harsh and unnecessarily strict approach to the separation of church and state.
“The head scarf is a sexist sign, and discrimination between the sexes has no place in the republican school,” France’s minister of national education, Xavier Darcos, said in a telephone interview. “That is the fundamental reason why we are against it.”
Oddly, France is much more lenient than we are about about giving tax money to religious schools.
In return for the schools’ teaching the national curriculum and being open to students of all faiths, the government pays teachers’ salaries and a per-student subsidy.
This makes tuition relatively low, encouraging parents to take this option.
In France’s highly centralized education system, the national curriculum proscribes religious instruction beyond general examination of religious tenets and faiths as it occurs in history lessons. Religious instruction, like Catholic catechism, is voluntary.
So the tax money is used to make the religious schools less religious. It furthers the government agenda of secularization.

16 comments:

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"The ban on head scarves probably strikes most Americans as a terribly harsh and unnecessarily strict approach to the separation of church and state."

I think it has less to do with separation of church and state (the subjects of the ban aren't civil servants) and everything to do with blocking the Islamization of public space.

downtownlad said...

Totally disagree Jeff.

France is extremely secular. I recommend you read up on the French Revolution.

ricpic said...

Catholic school girls in tartan skirts and bobby sox
Are the blue chip benchmark sexual stock.

Richard Dolan said...

"Oddly, France is much more lenient than we are about about giving tax money to religious schools."

The oddity is the American approach, not the French.

UWS guy said...

That's pretty good ricpic!

ron st.amant said...

Here in Ontario the public financing of Catholic schools is a legacy that it seems is too strong to break. It became an issue in the last Provincial elections because the conservative (PC) leader John Tory proposed funding all faith-based private schools. There was a huge backlash, yet it did spark a more intense debate about the Catholic School funding. I believe the Green Party is now running on a platform to eliminate the funding altogether.
As an American, I see the issue as an all or nothing (preferably nothing) fairness issue. However support for repealing the Catholic School funding seems nowhere near a critical mass (pardon the pun) at this point.

bleeper said...

In Saudi Arabia, Catholics prefer to leave.

John Burgess said...

ricpic: French Catholic schoolgirls would sneer at tartans. That's an Anglo/Irish/Scots phenomenon (wildly picked up by Japanese pervs).

French schoolgirls have better fashion sense. I know because I married one.

Bleeper: Gee... I wonder what all those Irish and Filipinos, not to mention Poles, are doing in the Kingdom? Maybe earning money?

Trooper York said...

I am a product of Catholic schools. Both grammar and high school. I think the thing that shaped me the most is my Catholic grammar school. The values and attitudes that I learned from age 6to 13 have shaped my character and made me who I am today. For better or worse.

When Barack Obama was that age he was in a madrassa in Indonesia. It makes me wonder.

bleeper said...

Yeah, I was wrong. Saudi Arabia is liberal, at least to the extent that they have the same goals as democrats - the destruction of Israel, the destruction of the west and the imposition of sharia all over the world. My bad.

Because allowing infidels to earn money means they believe in diversity, right? And women can drive, too, right? And walk around without scarves, right? And vote. And you see "Coexist" bumper stickers on every car there, right? Yeah, my bad... Great liberals, those head chopping pre-modernists...

Trooper York said...

Now I am not saying that is a bad thing. I honestly don't know enough about what those schools were like back then. I don't think they were as anti-american as they seem to be now. But that was the time of Pan-arabism and Nasser and all that stuff. It might be a good idea to examine that a little.

Or we could talk about dinosaurs.

Cedarford said...

The ban on head scarves probably strikes most Americans as a terribly harsh and unnecessarily strict approach to the separation of church and state."

The French ban was called and received widespread popular support because Islamazoids were also showing up in the Full Veil (sack with the eyeslit) and demanding separate phys ed times and footwash facilities for prayer times and set-aside prayer rooms.

It was pushed by Muslim radicals in their obnoxious "our way or there will be trouble!" way, and too much for the secular French to stomach - after they had long ago had the Catholics and Jews knock similar shit off.

In America, we have school dress codes and rules that not only go to modesty - but "infringe" on both the religious and the gang culture. Whatever interferes with the education mission...and frankly the biggest problem is that the discipline is not imposed as much as it should be across the nation.

vbspurs said...

I think it has less to do with separation of church and state (the subjects of the ban aren't civil servants) and everything to do with blocking the Islamization of public space.

Wrong, Jef. Secularism is a French idée fixe.

BTW, this banning of headscarves law is proof positive of the Muslim-spin given everything today by media, and seized upon by angry Muslims in France.

The law called for a banning of all outward show of religious paraphenalia.

It's just that the Christians who were not allowed to wear showy crosses, and the Jews who were not allowed to wear their kepis/yarmulkes didn't make so much of a stink.

As ever.

Cheers,
Victoria

MPorcius said...

Doesn't the French government provide funds to religious schools as a means of control? The government can pressure the schools to act how they want by threatening to withhold funds.

blake said...

mporcious--

I believe that's Althouse's point: The state funds the schools but requires them to teach secularism.

I would tend to interpret it from the reverse view (though acknowledging that this is probably a historical consequence of the Church's power in France): The schools sold out to the state.

Masterasia said...

Some Muslims even go to church for just curiosity's sake.