why the State wants to end its contract with the establishment

why the State wants to end its contract with the establishment

From the showcase of excellent Muslim education to a suspicion of teachings “contrary to the values ​​of the Republic”. Founded in 2003, the Averroès private high school, the first Muslim denominational high school to obtain an association contract with the State, is today threatened with losing this approval. The prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, Georges-François Leclerc, will in any case plead in favor of a break during an academic commission, Monday November 24, based on a 12-page report, written by his office, that The cross was able to consult.

“A worrying educational community”

At the heart of the grievances formulated by the State against the establishment which welcomes around 800 students in the middle and high school: approximate financial management, fueled by funding “illicit”as well as'” a worrying educational community »several executives of whom are indicted by the courts, in particular for acts “breach of trust” and of “financial fraud”. But also, lessons delivered which would be “in contradiction” with republican values, on the question of secularism, gender relations and even freedom of conscience.

If the association contract linking the Averroès high school and the State were to be broken, this could jeopardize the financial situation of the establishment, already fragile. To date, thanks to its status, the high school benefits from the payment of the salaries of its high school teachers from public funds, as well as from the payment of the “day school package”, intended to pay non-teaching staff.

The school leaders, regularly criticized for their supposed links with the Muslim Brotherhood, assure us: the Averroès school group was created to “imbue students with a fair and balanced understanding of Islam in symbiosis with the context and realities of French society”. The middle school offers in particular a Muslim ethics course lasting one and a half hours per week, from sixth grade to final year.

Concern about the religious corpus for students

Several inspections carried out over the years, including one carried out by the regional audit chamber (CRC) in 2023, call into question the “compatibility” of this Islamic teaching with the “values ​​of the Republic”. As for the Averroès college, opened in 2012, which is not in an association contract with the State (unlike the high school), the CRC notes that “the content offered seems to deliver a teaching of Sunni Islam with content appearing relatively academic. The program for sixth, fifth and third grades leaves an important place for the first generations of Islam, through the study of several “pious predecessors”(1). The civil servants, on the other hand, seem more worried about the religious corpus offered at the high school under contract, and especially the presence of a work, the study of which is on the program of the “Muslim ethics” course of the second year.

This is the commentary on the “Forty hadiths of Imam An-Nawawi” by two contemporary Syrian exegetes. Some of the comments of the two authors lay down a series of rules of a social and political nature to be followed by the believer: prohibition for a sick woman to be examined by a man when a woman can carry out this act, commandment for both men and women to avoid diversity in the workplace or even the prohibition, under penalty of death, of apostasy. “This work, studied by students, young minors, in the midst of learning, is in complete contradiction with Republican values”decide the authors of the report of an academic advisory commission.

“A primarily spiritual perspective”

Mohamed Damak, president of the Averroès association, declared himself in frank opposition to such an analysis, arguing that the hadiths in question were not taught by the professor and that the religious ethics courses were precisely aimed “to give them methodological tools allowing them to free themselves from a normative reading of religious texts, from a primarily spiritual perspective”. “It’s a question of how these hadiths would be put forward,” explains Haoues Seniguer, lecturer at Sciences Po Lyon, specialist in Islamism. The Quran is a dialectic between peace and violence, depending on the passage one chooses. What is interesting is how teachers would present these questionable hadiths: do they justify the resulting action? Or are they presented as texts present in the tradition which must be debated? “, asks the academic.

In addition to these religious ethics courses, the academic commission’s report points to content productions “worrying” by students, although supervised by teachers, such as posters presenting Covid as a creation of the Pasteur Institute, or a production by a teenager indicating “I would rather be a lone wolf than a popular sheep”, seeming to manifest an atmosphere of hostility to official and institutional discourses. If academic excellence is not called into question, attested by the high degree of success of students in the national patent and baccalaureate diplomas, the report notes that the confusion between ” belief “ And ” science ” among students would be the product of teaching that “underinvests in the development of critical thinking”.

Funding from Qatar

Founded 20 years ago, the establishment was opened by the Islamic League of the North to take care of the education of students excluded from their high school because they wore the veil. Until 2015, the Muslim high school received significant foreign funding from the non-governmental organization Qatar Charity. These funds, “without being illegal”notes the CRC, “intervened within the framework of a proselytizing program carried by this organization, aimed at Europe, aimed at rooting political Islam within the Muslim communities of Europe”. According to the establishment, the funds received were not accompanied by any ” influence “ of Qatar on their educational project.


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