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France shuts down only Muslim school in Paris


French authorities have shut down the only school in Paris that caters to Muslims, TRT World reported, saying that the crackdown on the community was intensifying.

According to the publication, the 4.5 million strong Muslim community in the country is facing increasing pressure from authorities.

Established in 2015, MHS College and High School is a private secondary in Paris. Despite the school officially being secular and following the national curriculum, its pupils are mostly Muslims.

“A unique feature of the school, however, is that it allows its female students to follow their religious convictions and wear the hijab if they wish, ‘because we think that everybody should wear the clothes they want!’ said the founder of the MHS,” reported TRT.

Read more: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau says freedom of expression not without limits

Following France’s 2004 crackdown against Muslim girls’ right to wear a headscarf on school premises, they were compelled to take it off at the entrance of the school gate.

A young Muslim girl has two French flags and a headband reading “Fraternity” on her headscarf while marching to protest a French ban on religious symbols in state schools, Paris, January 31, 2004.

Since then, there were few options under which a Muslim woman could receive an education while still able to practice her faith.

The Paris school was a “unique” establishment that had allowed this freedom to Muslim girls.

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In a statement, the school called this latest decision to shut the school as “arbitrary”, with more than 110 students without a placement in the middle of an academic year, as well 18 teachers and support staff unemployed.

The school was shut after authorities had conducted an inspection on November 17. The students had “found themselves surrounded by around forty controllers, inspectors and ministerial agents and police officers” during the inspection.

Read more: Pakistan condemns ‘systematic Islamophobic campaign’ after resurgence of blasphemous caricatures

However, to justify the closure, the authorities said that the school was shut down as it did not meet the safety standards.

On the other hand, the school said that to meet the country’s legal requirements, it had done extensive renovation.

“In addition, they explained the building is shared with other institutions that are also working with children and they were not asked to shutdown. Only MHS was ordered to,” the publication said.

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The development comes after French President Emmanuel Macron sparked protests across the Muslim world as he accused Muslims of separatism and vowed not to give up cartoons depicting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Following the protests and boycotts of French goods across the world, Macron told the Al-Jazeera network that he understood the caricatures could be shocking for some.

Large scale protests were also held in Pakistan against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France, while calls were made for a boycott of French products.

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