Religious demands rise in French state schools: study

Muslim school students and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system that teachers should rebuff by explaining the country’s secular principles, according to an official report created by the High Council for Integration: “It is becoming difficult for teachers to resist religious pressures,” said the report; teachers often faced objections when they taught courses about world religions, the Holocaust or France’s war in Algeria, or discussed events related to Israel and the Palestinians or American military actions in Muslim countries; “teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity,” it said, as “some think it amounts to evangelization”; and “Anti-Semitism surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films” about Nazi concentration camps, the report said, with “Tensions often [coming] from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims.”