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Muslims in France facing discrimination in higher studies

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PARIS: A fresh study conducted in France has revealed that the students with Muslim names and surnames applying to graduate programmes are discriminated against more than those with ethnically French names. While Turkey has become an attractive destination for young qualified Muslims fleeing France due to racism and discrimination.

According to local media, researchers at both the Higher Education Discrimination and Equality Monitoring Agency and Gustave-Eiffel University sent more than 1,800 emails in March 2021 to the education directors of 607 graduate programmes from 19 universities to test the latter’s discrimination against people with disabilities and those with foreign origins.

The test was conducted by researchers with false names, for both those with disabilities and those without used as test cases to graduate programme directors.

The directors whom researchers contacted claimed to embrace diversity in their applicants and did not prioritise people who come from a European background, but the researchers found otherwise.

Those with a Muslim name, the study found, were 12.3 percent less likely to receive a response to emails sent to each of their graduate programmes. 

This rate was 33.3 percent in the field of law, 21.1 percent in the fields of science, technology and health, and 7.3 percent in the fields of language, literature, art, humanities and social sciences. 

The researchers anonymously interviewed the same educational directors three months after the study concluded on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education “about the difficulties they encountered in the process of recruiting students,” finding then the double-standard when it came to the directors’ desire to embrace diversity.

No discrimination was found for students who said they were physically disabled.

Meanwhile, many qualified young French of North African origin are also settled in Gulf countries, but the modern yet traditional Turkey has now become an increasingly popular migration destination for them, according to a report by French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Wednesday.

Thirty-two-year-old Thibault, a baker from Isere, France, first moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina and later Norway. He eventually settled in Istanbul, Turkey with his wife and two children more than a year ago. 

The couple first thought about moving to Egypt or Morocco, but preferred Turkey as its diverse culture is more closer to their lifestyle.

Fosil Mahani, a YouTube influencer who settled in the Turkish Mediterranean province of Antalya in 2019, said Turkey’s blend of European and Middle Eastern culture appealed to him.

Muslim convert David Bizet, who founded Facebook group, Immigration to Turkey, is also living in Turkey since 2019. He is originally from Dijon in eastern France.

The report quoted a recent post by Bizet, which read: “Hardly a week passes by without messages from the French who have settled in Turkey or want to settle down.”

French authorities have been accused of cornering its Muslim community, and in recent years many mosques and civil society organisations are said to have closed down.

French President Emmanuel Macron has described Islam as a “religion in crisis” and also introduced a set of principles that would define an “Islam of France”.

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