France has tried several controversial tactics to stop the rise of Islamism in the country, thus far with little success. Now, a former French government official has a novel suggestion: To prevent young people from becoming radicalized, start teaching Arabic in public schools.
Arabic language classes have declined in France over the past couple decades, even as the country’s Arab and Muslim population has increased. In a new report, Hakim El Karoui, a renowned expert on Islam and the Arab world who served in the cabinet of former president Jacques Chirac, makes the case that if public schools fail to offer Arabic lessons, young Muslims may seek out language classes at mosques, where the language will inevitably be tied with religious studies. The risk of radicalization is therefore higher in a mosque than at a secular public school, he says in the report, published by the liberal French think tank Institut Montaigne.