April 22, 2014
For its 31st edition, the annual gathering of French Muslims at Le Bourget organized by the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), the theme of family and gender studies in schools were at the heart of the debate.
Bringing together speakers like Tariq Ramadan, Tariq Oubrou and Farida Belghoul – President of the Journée de Retrait de l’Ecole (JRE) or ‘Day of Withdrawal from School’ – the conference presented mixed views. A controversy erupted when Farida Belghoul’s appearance was cancelled and then reincorporated at the last minute by the UOIF under public pressure. Seeking to distant themselves from Belghoul’s call to take students out of school one day a month when gender theory would be taught, the UOIF had withdrawn its panel ‘Gender theory, which gender theory?’. Despite its own reservations on the proposed introduction of gender theory into schools, the UOIF condemns the JRE in the name of ‘refusing to use children in adult debates.’ ‘We are for the debate but we do not want a controversy. In light of the current circumstances, it’s better that Belghoul doesn’t appear with us,’ explained Amar Lasfar, the President of the UOIF.
The panel was reinstated into the program in the end, and the debate included Belghoul, Camel Bechikh from Fils de France, Nabil Ennasri from the Collective of French Muslims, sociologists Omero Marongiu-Perria and Fatima Khemilat, as well as Rachid Lamarti from the UOIF.
The UOIF was also the occasion for holding numerous other social debates concerning bioethics, modern individualism, diversity and ethics, gender equality, the portrayal of Islam in France, interfaith dialogue and the self-determination of societies. Le Bourget, in fact, didn’t restrict itself to one debate only.