French Court Backs Muslim School

A French court in the east-central city of Lyon has overturned a decision by the city's top educational authority to close a Muslim secondary school.

French Court Backs Muslim School

"Justice is served," the school's principal Nazir Hakim told on Tuesday, February 20.

"We were confident that the French judiciary would give us back our right to open the school under relevant laws that guarantee freedom of establishing private schools in accordance with the state by-laws," added Hakim, in an upbeat mood.

The Administrative Court in Lyon overturned the closure decision by the Academy of Lyon, which had argued that the school failed to meet hygiene and safety standards.

The Academy banned the school from opening its classes last semester, which started in September.

The court dismissed the Academy's rationale as unsubstantiated.

"There is no convincing reasons to close Al-Kindi school," the ruling read.

The school's administration had decried the closure decision as indicative of rising Islamophobia in France.

The school, named after Muslim philosopher, Yusuf Ya`qoub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi ( 801–873), is to open three classes by March 5.

"We have already met with families of the students who enrolled at our school but had later to withdraw their files owing to the closure," Hakim said.

The renovated building in the Lyon suburb of Décines will be fully operating next year and will mainly teach state curricula in addition to Qur`an, jurisprudence, Islamic civilization and history.

Private Muslim schools were an urgent demand by many Muslim families in France, especially after the state banned hijab and religious symbols at public schools.

A 2004 religious insignia law forced many French Muslim girls to enroll at schools in neighboring European countries or at private schools at home.

In July of 2003, the French government approved the establishment of Ibn Rushd school in Lille, which became the first secondary Muslim school in France.

Election Card

Some reports, however, said presidential hopeful and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy used his power to re-open the school in a bid to court alienated Muslim voters ahead of the April elections.

"Sarkozy is seeking to polish up his image among the Muslim minority ahead of the crucial presidential elections," the local daily, La Très Bien du Lyon, has said.

The newspaper further said the centre-right presidential candidate exercised pressures on the Academy to backtrack on its stance

The French Interior Minister and Elysee aspirant is keen to wash away the perception of being the enemy of France's minorities.

Positive discrimination, funds for mosques and helping establish the umbrella Muslim body for the sizable minority along with his support for immigrants threatened with deportation were seen as the trump cards of Sarkozy to win the votes of Muslims and immigrants in the April polls.

However, Sarkozy's ratings among minorities, particularly the sizable Muslim minority, are at their lowest due to a series of stances and several remarks made recently by him, which were seen as Islamophobic.

France is home to some six to seven million Muslims, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

More than half of France's Muslims are eligible voters.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16