Conveniently, Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers and fellow traveler of the Front National, has opened himself to attacks for alleged fichage of schoolchildren because he said on TV that 64.6% of Béziers students were Muslims. But the fact that the mayor is linked to the FN merely forecloses debate and obscures the underlying issues.
Now, as regular readers know, I think there are reasonable grounds for the collection of certain ethnic statistics. What is problematic here is the term "Muslim," since the city has no idea whether a child with the first name "Mohammed" practices Islam or any other religion--and it needn't know. But it can be useful for educational planning to know, for example, what percentage of students speak French at home or have French-speaking parents. Staffing and resource decisions can be more intelligently made with such information than without it, and if it is not collected formally, it will very likely be collected informally by school officials. So one might as well be open about it. It seems to me problematic to make "republican" synonymous with "blind to social and cultural realities." But I know that many French friends will disagree with me.