Protests in France over measures to prevent kids from skipping school for Eid

Paris: An effort by the French interior ministry to count the number of Muslim children who missed school last month to observe Eid Al-Fitr has drawn criticism from labour unions and anti-racism organisations.

The festival, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is observed as a public holiday in nations with a majority of Muslims. This year, it fell on Friday, April 21, for the majority of believers.

According to a statement released on Sunday, the French interior ministry had asked for "an evaluation of the level of absenteeism recorded on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr."
According to a statement from junior minister Sonia Backes, the ministry "regularly studies the impact of some religious festivals on the workings of public services, and particularly in the educational sector."

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When police in Toulouse asked local school administrators to report the number of absent students on April 21, it sparked allegations that the government was compiling a list, which Backes refuted.

In a letter to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday, the FSU, the largest teachers' union in the nation, stated that it "harshly denounces this operation."

According to the statement, "security forces' attempts to compile statistics on religious practises and whether they are observed or not, particularly in a school setting, violate the fundamental principles of secularism and fundamental rights."

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The more modest CGT Educ'ation union referred to it as a "scandalous and dangerous stigmatisation."

According to the anti-racism organisation SOS Racisme, using police to conduct the checks was "particularly shocking because it associates the observance of the Islamic religion with a matter of security."

France adheres to a strict version of secularism that protects everyone's right to practise their religion while attempting to keep the state and its various branches separate from religion and religious institutions.

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According to France's anti-discrimination laws, it is also generally forbidden to collect information about ethnicity or religious affiliation.
Major Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are observed in France as public holidays when schools are closed because of the nation's Catholic heritage

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