The prefect of the North has decided to end the contract linking the Lille Averroès high school to the State, thus ceasing to subsidize the main Muslim high school in France from the start of the 2024 school year, twenty years after its creation. This decision follows the favorable opinion of an advisory commission chaired by the prefect, which examined at the end of November both the financing and the content of the Muslim ethics course.
The decision to terminate the contract was taken on Thursday, and a letter sent to the high school on Friday, indicated the prefecture on the evening of Sunday December 10, without wanting to detail the content of the letter. School officials said they have not yet received it. They announced at the end of November that they would take legal action if the contract was terminated.
Muslim ethics course
According to the Parisian which reveals this decision, the prefect points out in his letter management irregularities and teachings described as contrary to the values of the Republic, in particular during Muslim ethics courses. Still according to the daily, an inspection by the CDI showed a lack of resources on certain themes such as homosexuality, and the preponderance of religious works on Islam to the detriment of other religions.
The Lille establishment of 400 students, opened in 2003 with the support of the former UOIF (now Muslims of France), in the wake of the ban on the veil in schools, became in 2008 the first Muslim high school in France to be signed under contract. Since then, he has regularly ranked among the best in the region.
A standoff has pitted it since 2019 against the Hauts-de-France Region, which each year refuses to pay the subsidy provided for under the contract, accusing Averroès of a Qatari donation of €950,000 in 2014.
“An illicit financing system”
National Education had carried out several inspections, without finding grounds to call into question the association contract. The general inspectorate of national education notably estimated in a 2020 report that ” Nothing “ does not allow you to think “that teaching practices (…) do not respect the values of the Republic”. The Ministry of Education, contacted, did not wish to react on Sunday.
For his part, the prefect, in his preliminary report to the academic commission in November, noted the mention, in the bibliography of Muslim ethics teaching, of a collection of religious texts including commentaries advocating the death penalty for apostasy or segregation of the sexes.
This report included press extracts implicating teachers, and deplored “an illicit financing system”citing a “investigation opened by the Lille public prosecutor’s office” on loans granted to the school group by associations which subsequently did not request repayment.
The public prosecutor’s office confirmed that it had opened an investigation following a report from the Regional Court of Auditors, the content of which it did not detail. Implicitly pointed out is the historical link between Averroès and the UOIF, an organization resulting from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement.
“No one apart from the prefectural authority says that there is a link with the Muslim Brotherhood”emphasized at the end of November a lawyer for the school, Me Jospeh Breham, recalling that “ no leader of the association (managing the high school, editor’s note) has ever been heard, placed in police custody or referred to the criminal court”.
Averroès is one of only two Muslim high schools under contract in France, with the Al-Kindi high school near Lyon (174 students). The school group has more than 800 students, including 400 under contract. In France, 1,700 students were educated in schools, colleges and these two Muslim high schools under contract at the start of the 2022 school year, according to national education.