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France: The Looming Battle over Muslim Integration
by Soeren Kern
A panel appointed by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to review France's integration policies has urged the government to implement a "new form of secularism" that would raise the profile of Islam in public life—in order to improve the integration of Muslim immigrants.
Among a long list of recommendations aimed at "recognizing the richness of multiple identities," the panel says that public schools in France should begin allowing Muslim pupils to wear headscarves in class (clothing that has been outlawed since 2004), and that courses should be taught in Arabic and African languages rather than in French.
The panel also recommends a number of other multicultural changes that would provide greater recognition to the "Arab-oriental dimension" of France's national identity. These include changing street and place names, overhauling the history curriculum taught in schools and creating a special day to honor the contribution of immigrant cultures.
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