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EDUCATION

Teacher in France suspended for reading Bible to pupils in class

A teacher in central France has been suspended after he read passages of the bible to his primary school pupils. Educagtion authorities in the staunchly secular country have been accused of overreacting.

Teacher in France suspended for reading Bible to pupils in class
A file photo of a French school. Photo: AFP
The teacher was suspended from his school in Malicornay, in the department of Indre, after reading Bible passages to pupils aged between nine and 11.
 
Parents of pupils in the class objected to the teacher's lessons, writing an anonymous letter to the headmaster in complaint, reported France Bleu radio.
 
The headmaster then decided to suspend the teacher for his apparent disregard of France's strict secularism laws that separate religion from public sphere, in particular in education. 
 
A substitute teacher has been called in while the national education board reviews the case. 
 
The local mayor said that the suspension was a “disproportionate measure” and that the teacher was actually “very much appreciated” by the pupils and parents. 
 
France takes the principal of secularism – or laïcité as it is called in French – very seriously, however it is unusual to hear of a teacher being suspended for reading a passage from the Bible.
 
Teachers are indeed allowed to teach about holy books like the Bible or Koran, but they are strictly forbidden from attempting to convert students or preach about a religion. 
 
A desire to reinforce secularism and keep religion out of French schools was taken in September 2013 when each establishment was ordered by law to put a charter.
 
The document must appear in a prominent place in every school, in the form of a poster and was designed to remind teachers and pupils of a list of 15 secular, Republican principles.
 
France unveils 'secular charter' for all schools

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POLITICS

French minster orders closure of Cannes mosque over anti-Semitic remarks

France's interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

The French riviera town of Cannes
The French riviera town of Cannes. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad”, authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometres west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed jihad and “terrorism”, according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

In the interview on Wednesday, the interior minister said that 70 mosques in France were considered to be “radicalised”.

According to the ministry, there are a total of 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the country.

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