A Muslim school in Marseilles comes under state contract

It will be the fourth of its kind to come under state contract in France. The first private school in Marseille will soon be recognized by the State. And while the debate concerning secularism rages, the government’s willingness to increase the number of religious schools remains a highly sensitive topic.

At the beginning of the year, the government had officially recognized the increase in the number of private Muslim schools, mostly for better defining Islam in terms of the Republic.

Today, one hundred children are undergoing selection for the following school year for a curriculum that focuses on math and French. Success, mentoring and discipline are other characteristics that pushed a mother of a recently converted family to register her child for the school. According to her, it is imperative to create a Muslim elite. “With Islamic education in France, we will create future actors in French society and maybe even politicians,” she said.

© LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP
© LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

In this school, where young girls don’t all wear headscarves, State recognition is seen as a way to escape marginalization. “It’s true that when we tried to have Muslim schools, there is always a need to justify them. The fact of being recognized will allow us to feel better. People will no longer be afraid. We are first and foremost Frenchmen, culturally Muslim, but we are French.”