Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Principal of Laïcité

After reading this, I know you'll want to send your kids to a school like this one. From ESJ-Lille:

The principal of the Lavoisier Vocational High School in Roubaix authorizes the expression of all religions, in the name of respecting others and their beliefs. It is more than a principle, it is a method of teaching.

On a typical day, in the school yard, two students idle in the sun. One wears the veil, the other does not. A choice everyone in this school attended by disadvantaged youngsters respects. Ever since Jean-Pierre Lafage became principal ten years ago, the religions coexist peacefully in this high-school where 70% of the students are Muslim.

Note: I think we can see why the coexistence is peaceful.

Some students remove their veil on entering class. The physical education, sewing and chemistry teachers have learned to cope with the girls who wear them. The veil is simply tucked inside their blouses to avoid an accident. The students have the right to be absent on Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious holidays. Those who observe Ramadan are reimbursed the price of the cafeteria meals they do not eat. And no teacher has complained about the fasting of his students, since they appear to be "turned on by the effort."

The latest symbol of consensus: the whole high-school eats hallal in the cafeteria, including the non-Muslims. It was easier to adopt this ritualistic method of preparing meat that the other faiths can tolerate.

Note: I nearly burst out laughing when I read that. This article is serious. But don't you sense a slight tongue-in-cheek tone?

Update: February 2011 - If I laughed it was because of the idea that it was easier to give everybody halal than to accommodate individual religious dietary demands. I did not know then that this would become a universal principle in France for economic reasons - give everyone halal food, rather than spend money on special diets. That is in fact what has happened.

Through these accommodations, Jean-Pierre Lafage defends his concept of "laïcité". A modern laïcité, better adapted to society. "I am a hussar of the French Republic, but not the Third Republic! We mustn't forget that the republic of Jules Ferry was also that of colonialism, that it was not all good," he explains. "And even today we exclude people in the name of laïcité. I defend the republic of tomorrow, tolerant and multicultural. To give life to laïcité means allowing all cultures to express themselves."

In order that the mosque not be the only cultural and social reference for the youth of the neighborhood, the high-school offers classes in Arabic on weekends. And in an effort to integrate the residents of the neighborhood, the school has also hired 40 persons in difficulty, many of them mothers of the students.

Giving every culture its place has made dialogue possible.

The article tells how the Ministry of Education first opposed Lafage's initiatives, then later decided to give him a free hand. Government opposition is justified since theoretically the law of 1905 separates Church and State, and forbids religious signs or practices in the schools. This law created "laïcité" - the division of France into two spheres, religious and secular. While at one time it was shocking to see a veil in the schools, look at what has happened:

"We would be shocked if the girls were forced to remove their veil," say the students, some of whom are Catholic. "And if a new principal comes along and changes things, lots of luck to him!"

Out of the 400 Muslim girls only 5 or 6 wear the veil every year. A stable number. "I find it monstrous to exclude girls for their beliefs," the principal fulminates. "It's hypocrisy, not to say racism. Catholics don't wear veils, but their religion asks nothing of them. Whereas for a Muslim girl, it's really important. It's discrimination, pure and simple. For me, laïcité is equality."

Note: This principal has totally absorbed Sarkozy's concept of "positive laïcité", which, as we know, is a euphemism for "submission to Islam". He goes on to more wildly fallacious reasonings:

"It's easy to establish a standard and to exclude the others, but afterwards you can't complain if there is violence. To the young we say, 'You are French', but we deny them the right to be French in their way. We reproach them for everything and anything - Algeria, terrorism. Whereas to accept the other as he is, to understand what is important to him, is the best defense against extremism."

I take this to mean that we have not tried hard enough to understand the needs of the individuals who slit throats and drive bomb-rigged cars into crowds of people.

Each year a cultural week is set aside. The students themselves choose the theme. Classes are suspended and replaced by dialogue and discovery. (...) This year the theme is "understanding the world". The students were very upset by the September 11 attacks and by what is happening in the Middle East. This week they were given a chance to talk and also to realize that you can change things. When an entire people is humiliated in Palestine, it is impossible not to react.

What does THAT mean? We could speculate as follows: an entire people is humiliated, therefore, as horrible as the 9/11 attacks were, what do you expect when you humiliate people?

Now for some statistics on how "successful" this school is:

Despite a difficult social context, Lavoisier High-School can boast today of minimal violence and excellent scholastic results. In the year 2000, 100% of the students received their "bac". (i.e. the high-school diploma, known at one time for its rigor. Getting the "bac" was never an easy task, or a foregone conclusion.) And last year, two veiled girls received honorable mention. Almost a personal success for the principal. "Of course, I cannot claim that they succeeded because they were veiled. But, really, if we had upset them by making a big deal about the veils..."

In browsing the web I came upon this comment from a reader on the above article (lest you think all Frenchmen are collaborators like this loony principal):

- Can someone give me the address and phone number of this establishment? It shames France!!! Why not turn the public schools into Koranic schools while we're at it? Where will this lead? With a principal who attacks laïcité. We must do something...

Actually the principal simply redefined laïcité to suit the dictates of the times. Sarkozy was among the first (before he was president) to redefine the 1905 law and to recast laïcité into the mold of Islam.

Note: If the school functions "well" it is because it is a Muslim school, not a public school in any sense of the word. Any Catholics or Jews have to go along with it or get out. The city of Roubaix, situated near Lille and close to the Belgian border, has had a Muslim majority for many years. Apparently the social and economic inequalities are among Muslims themselves. There is a well-educated North African elite on the one hand and ghettoes and danger zones where the police do not venture on the other. If the principal of Lavoisier has succeeded it has been within the context of a Muslim city. His boasting about "all cultures expressing themselves" is nonsense, since only one culture can predominate in any successful (if you call this successful) social situation. Here, it is Islam and Maghrebin civilization that have taken over Roubaix.

Some of the above information is from Radio France.

The photo of the school shows one of those dreadful modern scuptures we see in front of many public buildings nowadays.

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At June 01, 2008 9:21 PM, Anonymous dauphin_b612 said...

Almost too nauseating to comment, but this is not a "public" school as you rightly point out. It is the laïcité of "dhimmitude", if I am using the term correctly.

At June 02, 2008 12:24 AM, Blogger tiberge said...

@ dauphin

One could say the "laïcité of dhimmitude" or the "dhimmitude of positive laïcité." C'est tout comme.

Anyway the principal clearly would like a post in the Ministry of National Education, don't you think?

At June 02, 2008 4:25 AM, Blogger zazie said...

I have two comments ; first a question : how many "ways of being French" are there ? Second, this type of school delivers its own diploma, without any final exam, based only on what we call "contrôle continu" ; a few years ago, demagogues had the brillant idea of naming this diploma "bac pro" (for professionnel) ; just try and be honest when marking the pupils' papers ; you are sure to get into trouble with the pupils, their parents and....Monsieur/Madame le Principal/Proviseur!

At June 02, 2008 4:08 PM, Blogger IftikharA said...

Education of Muslim Children

London School of Islamics is an educational Trust. Its aim is to make
British public, institutions and media aware of the needs and demands of the
Muslim community in the field of education and possible solutions.

Today in Slough Islamic school Trust Slough had a seminar on Muslim
education and schools in Thames Valley Atheltic Centre. The seminar was
addressed by the education spokesman of MCB. I could not attend the seminar
but I believe lot of Muslims from Slough and surrounding areas must have
attended. Very soon, the Muslims of Slough will have a state funded Muslim
school but there is a need for more schools. A day will come when all Muslim
children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim
teachers as role model.

Muslim schools are not only faith schools but they are more or less
bilingual schools.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the
National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve
humanity. They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the
Holy Quran. They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community
languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of
their literature and poetry.

Bilingualism is an asset but the British schooling regards it as a
problem. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not
want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Pakistan is only seven hours
from London and majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan.

More than third of British Muslim have no qualifications. British school
system has been failing large number of Muslims children for the last 60
years. Muslim scholars see the pursuit of knowledge as a duty, with the
Quran containing several verses to the rewards of learning. 33% of British
Muslims of working age have no qualifications and Muslims are also the least
likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications. Most of estimated
500,000 Muslim school-aged pupils in England and Wales are educated in the
state system with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. Majority of them are
underachievers because they are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual
Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. There is no place for a
non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. As far as higher education
is concerned, Muslim students can be educated with others. Let Muslim
community educate its own children so that they can develop their own
Islamic, cultural and linguistic identities and become usefull members of
the British society rather than becoming a buden.

We are living in an English speaking country and English is an
international language, therefore, we want our children to learn and be well
versed in standard English and at the same time well versed in Arabic, Urdu
and other community languages. Is there anything wrong with this approach?

It is not only the Muslim community who would like to send their children to
Muslim school. Sikh and Hindu communities have started setting up their
schools. Last week. British Black Community has planned the first all black
school with Black teachers in Birmingham.

Scotland's first state funded Muslim school could get the go-ahead within
months after First Munister Alex Salmond declared he was sympathetic towards
the needs and demands of the Muslim community.

Iftikhar Ahmad
London School of Islamics Trust

At June 03, 2008 2:58 AM, Blogger zazie said...

How right you have been not to delete the previous comment ! it really shows what sort of "citizens" muslims can be ; it also shows how arrogant we have allowed them to be!

At June 03, 2008 5:01 PM, Anonymous dauphin_b612 said...

@ tiberge

I see, and yes, I do think this is true!

@ zazie

As I'm sure you agree, there is only one way of being French--everything else should be left at home. On the British post, I agree. "Needs and demands" says it all as to this mindset. I think however that Muslims can be good citizens, but they have been propitiated to by weak and cowardly European men in order to bow to the god of multi-culturalism. Such "needs and demands" would never be listened to in a Muslim country, and in a way I respect them more for this. If there is to be mutual respect of cultures, then immigrants, whatever their race or creed, must respect their new country's ancient culture and conform to it, not the other way around.

At June 04, 2008 8:39 AM, Blogger dmb said...

How enlightning, this comment by Mr Iftikhar!!!! It gives us all the reasons why we should NOT allow this system of separate schools to continue! You can just imagine, in a small country like Britain, what will happen down the road, 50 years later for example, when those "communities" have grown bigger and bigger, as well as more and more demanding. What about the descendants of native Britons?


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