This year, Ramadan ended on Thursday April 20, the day before the spring break in zone C, which includes the academies of Paris, Versailles and Créteil. Also, the next day, some teachers found themselves in front of very sparse classes, while Muslim students were celebrating Eid-El-Fitr with their families.
Julie (1), a French teacher at a college in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis), had only three students in one class, six in another. She had anticipated the situation and planned writing workshops and games, like her colleagues. “It was a holiday eve atmosphere”, she describes.
“At Lycée Voltaire, half of the students were absent, also tells the Parisian principal Carole Zerbib. But in Seine Saint-Denis where I started my career, the establishments were empty that day, because the vast majority of students were Muslim. » This phenomenon has for her ” nothing new “ : “It just goes to show the lack of diversity in some institutions. »
“Major religious holidays are recognized reasons for absence”
Chance of the calendar, the Marcel-Sembat college-high school in Vénissieux (Rhône) was already on vacation, but its ranks are also sparse when Eid falls on a school day. In this establishment where more than half of the students are of the Muslim faith, this does not pose any particular problem, considers the headmaster François Martin. “Major religious holidays are recognized reasons for absence, he justifies. The families notify us in advance or give an apology the next day. »
According to him, this is “entered into the mores and is not a cause for concern”. The situation is different for the personnel, “who are bound by the obligation of neutrality”, he continues. They must make a request for absence, studied by the principal on a case-by-case basis.
From a legal point of view, students can therefore be absent during major religious holidays which are listed in Official newspaper, as stipulated in the circular for the application of the law on the veil, dated 18 May 2004. This “recalls on this point pre-existing provisions since 1907”, explains Jean-Pierre Obin, one of the artisans of the text. It provides that “authorizations of absence are granted to pupils for major religious holidays which do not coincide with a day off and whose dates are recalled each year by an instruction”.
This “frame is sufficient”, believes for example the SNPDEN, the main union of management personnel, and imposes itself on all religions. On the Muslim side, the rector of the Great Mosque of Lyon, Kamel Kabtane, thinks that the phenomenon should not be overinterpreted.
“We should stop being surprised each year by the fact that Muslim children do not come on the day of Eid, just as many Jewish children do not come during Jewish holidays. » He fears a focus on the actions of Muslims. “Every time Muslims do something, it starts a controversy, it’s seen as particularism or separatism. While it is a possibility that exists. »