The French government is strongly advocating the teaching of Arabic language and civilization in French schools. Not surprising, considering the number of Arabs and Muslims in France, and the unctuous deference with which they are treated by officials, beginning notably with Nicolas Sarkozy, who cannot praise enough the splendor of Arabic contributions to the world.
The French National Assembly was the scene of a meeting earlier this month of the first Conference on the Teaching of Arabic Language and Culture, attended by a variety of interested parties. There was much wearisome blather about the need for "dialogue."
In his message to the participants, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Arabic the "language of the future, of science and of modernity," and expressed the hope that "more French people share in the language that expresses great civilizational and spiritual values."
"We must invest in the Arabic language (because) to teach it symbolizes a moment of exchange, of openness and of tolerance, (and it) brings with it one of the oldest and most prestigious civilizations of the world. It is in France that we have the greatest number of persons of Arabic and Muslim origin. Islam is the second religion of France," Sarkozy reminded his listeners.
He proceeded to enumerate the various "advances in terms of diversity," the increase in Muslim sections of cemeteries, the training of imams and chaplains and the appointments of ministers of diverse backgrounds.
"France is a friend of Arabic countries. We are not seeking a clash between the East and West," he affirmed, emphasizing the strong presence of Arab leaders at the founding summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, last July 13. "The Mediterranean is where our common hopes were founded. Our common sea is where the principal challenges come together: durable development, security, education and peace," added the French president.