This is a major step in the standoff which has opposed, for several months, the Averroès high school in Lille and the president of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand. In a highly anticipated decision, the members of the academic commission meeting this Monday, November 27 under the aegis of the prefect, voted unanimously for the termination of the association contract which binds the State to the Averroès high school in Lille, the oldest Muslim establishment in the country.
However, this is not a surprise. For many months, numerous grievances have been addressed to this establishment suspected of links with the Muslim Brotherhood and foreign influence. The first suspicions relate to its financing. “Part of the funds were paid by Qatar ten years ago, and since then by an agency, Qatar Charity,” concedes the lawyer for the Averroès association which manages the high school, Me Joseph Breham, who nevertheless considers the process legal.
Other criticisms concerned the profile of certain teachers and, above all, a course in Muslim ethics, and the presence of a book entitled Forty hadiths of Imam An-Nawawi written by two Syrian exegetes. The authors prescribe several rules of behavior, such as prohibiting a sick woman from being examined by a man when a woman can perform this procedure, or even avoiding diversity in the workplace.
The academic commission considered that these were elements contrary to the spirit of the association contract with the State, which creates rights and obligations for establishments. The lawyer for the Averroès management association minimizes the scope of the work, “which has never been in the hands of the students, was given to the establishment when it opened in order to nourish its library, and is only used, possibly, by teachers who wish it in order to prepare their lessons”.
The commission did not follow it, recalling the outlines of the association contract with the State. This in fact creates reciprocal obligations. Thus, on a financial level, the State pays the salaries of teachers and pays a “externship package” for non-teaching staff. The communities – the regions for the high schools – pay for their part the operating expenses. Families, finally, put their hands in their pockets to cover the costs linked to real estate and “own character”.
On an educational level, the establishments concerned undertake to respect the national education programs. They must also guarantee the welcome of all and the freedom of conscience of school children. On the other hand, because of their “specific character”, they can organize religious education as they wish, within certain limits: they cannot therefore contravene the values of the Republic and criminal obligations.
From now on, the prefect will have to confirm the decision of the academic committee or not. “ If he decides to put an end to the association contract with the State, I will refer the matter to the administrative judge “, warns Joseph Breham.
The commission’s deliberation risks causing incomprehension in the Muslim community, while Averroès had climbed among the best establishments in the region, with a 98% pass rate for the Baccalaureate. It could seriously hamper the creation of new Muslim establishments under contract, even though these are already very rare today. “ Muslim education is recent and mostly outside of contract, noted the Court of Auditors in a recent report. The network had around a hundred establishments at the start of the 2019 school year, of which only ten were under contract. Nearly 1,300 students were educated in contract classes out of a total of just over 10,500 students. »