October 1, 2008
If French Muslims find haven in Catholic schools
Imam Soheib Bencheikh is a former grand mufti in Marseille, France. He is also founder of the Marseille-based Higher Institute of Islamic Studies. And his oldest daughter attends Catholic school. Why? “Laïcité has become the state’s religion, and the republican school is its temple,” he says. “It’s ironic,” he adds, “but today the Catholic Church is more tolerant of—and knowledgeable about—Islam than the French state.”
Now in France Muslim students make up more than 10 percent of the two million students in Catholic schools. In ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Marseille and the industrial north, the proportion can be more than half. In today’s New York Times.