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  • 18 December 2008: Agreement with the Holy See on the recognition of diplomas of Catholic schools

On 18th December 2008, Mr. Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mgr Dominique Mamberti, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, signed an agreement on the recognition of degrees and diplomas in higher education between France and the Holy See.
This agreement is in particular intended to recognise the value of canonical degrees and diplomas (theology, philosophy, canon law) as well as non-religious diplomas issued by institutions of Catholic higher education recognised by the Holy See.
Until now, the State held the monopoly on conferring university degrees and did not recognise diplomas issued by private institutions. Catholic schools who wanted to prepare their students for a state diploma either had to enter into a contract with a public university or ask to appoint a public board to allow their students to undergo the necessary checks to obtain their degree.
This new agreement should allow the recognition of diplomas awarded by the 5 Catholic institutions or universities of Paris, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Angers as well as Centre Sèvres Jesuit Faculty in Paris and the Cathedral School, whose faculties of theology are recognised by the Holy See.
The agreement will be applicable once duly ratified, but many voices are already criticising this reform, which is seen as a challenge to the laïcité of the state and of French universities.

  • 15 September: Burqa and language training in the host contract and integration

The High Authority for the Struggle against Discrimination and for Equality (HALDE) has received a request for a legal opinion on the compatibility of the ban on wearing the burqa with the principle of non-discrimination in the context of language training required under the Integration and Welcome Contract (CAI). Basing its deliberations on jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights and on educational requirements for teaching languages, the High Authority decided on 15th September 2008, that the requirement for those undertaking language training under the Contract to remove the burqa or niqab does constitute a restriction in accordance with obligations under Articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 2 of Protocol No.1.

Read the text of the HALDE deliberation (in French).

  • 27 June 2008 : The Council of State confirmed its decision to deny French citizenship to a Moroccan woman

On 16th May 2005, the French government refused a Moroccan woman’s request to acquire French nationality. Their decision was based on the fact that she had not assimilated into society: "It is clear from the evidence in this case that Mrs M.’s behaviour in public constitutes an extreme manner of practising her religion and is incompatible with the core values of the French community, in particular, the principle of gender equality, and that she cannot therefore be regarded as fulfilling the condition of assimilation."
The Council of State confirmed this decision in a ruling dated 27th June 2008. It notes that Mrs. M. appeared repeatedly for interviews in the prefecture "covered by the garment worn by women in the Arabian peninsula" (the niqab), a piece of clothing that she only started wearing after her arrival in France and at her husband’s request. The Council of State decided that it was clear from her statements that "Mrs. M. has not integrated the values of French society and particularly that of gender equality. She lives in total submission to the men in her family, shown as much in the garment she wears as in the organisation of her daily life (...). "

Source: EC, 27th June 2008, app. n° 286798, Conclusions of the Government Commissioner.

  • 8 June 2008: Election of the French Council of the Muslim Faith

Elections for the renewal of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) were held on Sunday, 8th June 2008. 4862 delegates from 1039 mosques were registered to vote. The turnout was 81% despite the call from the Federation of the Great Mosque of Paris to boycott proceedings; they challenged the appointment of delegates (calculated according to the surface area of places of worship).
The poll was intended to elect the executives of 25 regional councils of the Muslim faith and the Board of Directors of the CFCM. The Muslim Assembly in France (RMF), consisting mainly of Muslims of Moroccan origin came first with 43.24% of votes (20 seats of the 41 that make up the board), followed by the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF) with 30.23% (13 seats), the Coordination Committee of Turkish Muslims of France (CCMTF) with 12.73% (4 seats); 3 seats went to independent candidates and one to the National Federation of French Muslims. These representatives will then elect the executive board and president of the CFCM on 22nd June.
Paralysed by rivalries between different federations, the CFCM was created in 2003 and has so far done little to advance matters as part of its responsibility for organising the Muslim faith (training of imams, construction of sites of worship, separation of burial areas in cemeteries, ritual slaughter ...).

(Source : AFP)

D 31 December 2008   

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