Islamists are at the center of a growing culture clash at France’s preeminent institution for Eastern language studies where students describe female colleagues wearing burqas and refusing to take exams with male professors, reports the French publication Proche-Orient.info
The National Institute for Eastern Languages and Civilizations in Paris prides itself as a successful melting pot where Turks, Armenians and Kurds study Turkish together, and Jews and Arabs mingle to learn Arabic or Hebrew.
But an Islamist influence is stirring one of the school’s three main campuses, Asni?res, home to its Arabic department, according to school president Gilles Delouche.
“When female students who have arrived in October in jeans and T-shirts start wearing headscarves in February, you tell yourself there’s a problem,” said Delouche.
A complaint letter addressed to Delouche describes a “threatening atmosphere” and an “oppressive climate which allows for no dialogue.” Some issues reportedly are not brought up for reasons of “personal safety.”
A 25-year-old Muslim student from an Arab country is flabbergasted by the problems encountered in France, Proche-Orient.info said.
“I’ve traveled 1,700 kilometers so I don’t have to see these people,” he said. “And now I find them in Paris. It’s crazy.”
Though only about 3 percent of students are creating significant problems, “an astonishing climate has settled upon the place where it is not uncommon to see women completely covered except for their eyes, a few burqas and even clerics,” Proche-Orient reported.
No organized Islamist groups have been found yet within the department, but Delouche says, “Forces outside the school appear to be pulling the strings of these student activists.”
“We have identified a preacher who is not a student,” he said.
Delouche was evasive as to how many complaint letters he has received, but an emergency meeting of the school’s board was convened to deal with the situation.
The French publication provided some examples:
- Headscarved students demanded a prayer room within the university.
- Students are showing up at classes and exams with burqas, refusing to reveal their faces to men for identity checks. One student sent her brother – dressed in a burqa – to take an oral exam for her. His large feet apparently gave him away.
- Some female Muslim students refuse to take oral exams with male professors without the presence of another individual.
- Some Muslim women refuse to speak in language classes, insisting the Quran considers the act of using their voices to be immodest.
- Muslims scolded a young Muslim woman for wearing lipstick, contending she might break her Ramadan fast by ingesting particles from her lips. During the month-long observance last year, a group of students wiped makeup off the face of a young woman of North African origin.
- Muslim students told a history professor she had no right to quote or interpret the Quran in class because she is not a Muslim. After class, some students distributed partisan documents in an attempt to refute elements of her course on sensitive issues such as Israel, the Palestinians and Iraq.
- A dozen students left an Arabic culture course given by a professor of North African origin after she illustrated a point by playing classical Arabic music. The offended students said the Quran forbids the faithful from listening to music. One student said he had a right to have his faith respected because he paid tuition.
- At a meeting, professors of the Arabic studies department admitted they practiced self-censorship to avoid problems.
- A student prevented a female professor of Arabic grammar – described by the president as a “modern Muslim woman” – from teaching.
“The rising number of such events shows an intensification of Islamist acts that goes beyond proselytization and veiled or open threats to students,” Proche-Oriente.info said. “They indicate a religiously oriented opposition to the contents of university courses, which are constitutionally protected in France.”
Delouche said the response must be strong.
“We have to strike hard. We won’t give them free rein,” he said, adding, “We are not on a religious battlefield. A student can go to class in Afghan clothes as long as he doesn’t disturb the course.”
The school administration has communicated its concerns to French Education Minister Luc Ferry, and has asked for guards at the school’s entrances to ensure only registered students can enter the Asni?res campus.
“I’ve made three requests to the education authorities without any success,” he said.
As WorldNetDaily reported, fear of alienating Islamic immigrant populations has prompted the European Union to leave out mention of God and Europe’s Christian roots in its constitution.
Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci warns in her recent book, “The Rage and the Pride,” of an “Islamic Reverse Crusade” that aims to conquer the West.
“It is a war of religion,” she writes. “A war they call Jihad. If we do not defend ourselves, if we do not fight, the Jihad will win. … It will cancel our culture, our art, our science, our identity, our morals, our values, our pleasures.”
Europe is no longer Europe, she says, “It is a province of Islam” that hosts “almost 16 million Muslim immigrants and teems with mullahs, imams, mosques, burqas, chadors. It lodges thousands of Islamic terrorists whom governments don’t know how to identify and control.”