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French Education Minister Pape Ndiaye said there were “around 500 cases” of violations of secularism in French schools this March – numbers higher than previous months – due to the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ndiaye spoke on France 3 on Sunday about the so-called “barometer” that France uses to fix the wearing of religious symbols, dress codes, verbal provocations, rejection of republican values ​​in more than 59,000 schools, colleges and high schools.

The Minister of Education told the program “Dimanche en Politique” that: “The figures … show a decrease after the peak in October [as] there is always a peak [then] connected, in particular, with the commemoration of the assassination of Samuel Patty.”

Teacher Samuel Pati was beheaded by an 18-year-old Islamist near Paris in 2020 after a social media campaign criticized him for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class.

The rise and fall of secular rule violations

“And then there’s always an increase, every year during Ramadan,” Ndiaye added, without elaborating on the nature of the attacks on secularism during the Muslim holy month.

The minister said around 500 cases were recorded in March, but the numbers are expected to drop due to the end of Ramadan as well as the spring holidays.

According to the French Ministry of Education, 720 reports of secularism violations were filed in October, with a large proportion of incidents involving the wearing of religious symbols and clothing.

However, in November, their number dropped to 353.

Professors were suspended for criticizing the online education system

Asked about the recent case of two philosophy lecturers who were suspended for three months for their repeated and controversial comments on social media, Ndiaye said the lecturers’ comments were unacceptable.

“We are talking about outrageous, conspiratorial and offensive comments with great violence.”

“We guarantee the right to freedom of expression, but this type of comment does not fall under the right to freedom of expression,” he insisted.

They are accused of spreading videos and content on social networks that could harm “the image and reputation of the public service of national education.”