The High Council for Integration (HCI) called for a controversial ban of the Islamic headscarf in higher education in a report leaked to the public. The publication of the report caused confusion in social networks. Questioned by the AFP, the secretary general of HCI, Benoît Normand, said that the report had been submitted in April to the President of the new National Observatory of Secularism, Jean-Louis Bianco and should not be released before the end of the year.
For his part, Jean-Louis Bianco expressed regret over the “misunderstanding”. “The report commits only the Chair of Secularism of the HCI who is no longer in office.” The issue of the headscarves in higher education is, according to Bianco, not part of the task plan of the National Observatory of Secularism. The 2004 national law on banning the wearing of religious symbols in secondary schools does not apply to higher education. Only the niqab remains to be banned in public spaces including universities in France, not the hijab.
Reuters – September 16, 2011
French companies are increasingly facing religious demands from their employees and need a change in the labor code to be able to reject requests they find unreasonable, according to a report from the High Council for Integration (HCI). Most cases concern Muslims seeking time off for prayers or halal food in company cafeterias, but demands have also come from other faith groups as well as workers resentful of colleagues who get special treatment, officials said while presenting the report in Paris. In recent years, France has banned religious dress such as Muslim headscarves in state schools and full facial veils in public, but it has no laws covering religious issues that may arise in private companies.
Alain Seksig, author of the report, said the proposal would go to Prime Minister Francois Fillon and any change in the labor code would need to be approved by parliament.
News Agencies – June 23, 2011
While the High Council of Integration (the Haut conseil à l’intégration) estimated that 70,000 young Muslim girls were under pressure for forced marriages in France, a joint study by INED and INSEE has concluded that “forced marriages are marginal with immigrant girls.” The study focused on immigrants of Maghrebian, Turkish and sub-Saharian origins were culturally remaining single and premarital sexuality are typically frowned upon. Nine percent of immigrants between 51-60 years old claim to have married against their will; of these, two thirds of the arrangements took place prior to migrating to France.
News Agencies – October 25, 2010
Muslim pupils 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. The High Council for Integration (HCI) reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and “reject French culture and its values.”
HCI President Patrick Gaubert claimed his agency decided to study how pupils from immigrant backgrounds adapted to the state school system because “this is at the heart of the challenges that French society must face.” The Report will be released in November 2010.
The Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ) will hold elections in the various federal states of the country from November to April 2011, and has expressed a desire to have a higher number of female candidates as well as a high turn-out by female Muslim voters in general. Current president Anas Schakfeh has stated that the new electoral system is designed to bring in a greater degree of plurality– this is reflected by the participation of the Austrian Socialist politician Omar Al-Rawi in the IGGiÖ, while the possibility of a female president has also been evoked.
In order to be participate in the elections one needs to be a member of the IGGiÖ, to be older than fourteen, to have paid the yearly fee of 40 Euros, as well to have lived more than one year in the corresponding electoral region. Direct elections are held only for the assemblies of each federal state, who in turn elect the Shura Council, which then elects the High Council, one of whose members becomes the president.
The Austrian Liberal Muslim Initiative (ILMÖ) have criticized this process, which they claim is not representative for the approximately 600 000 Muslims in Austria. Moreover, the ILMÖ distanced themselves from the misuse of Islam and Muslims for political purposes, and characterized the participation of politicians such as Al-Rawi as illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to Islam.