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Islamism: the school is facing as best it can

A school under the influence of Islamism? The emotion provoked by the assassination of Professor Samuel Paty has provoked for five days a wave of catastrophic comments on social networks, on continuous news channels. The institution would have closed its eyes, the students and their teachers would now be at the mercy of radical Islam! “It is not to stir up fears that will get things done, laments the philosophy teacher Carole Diamant. We have not been in silence for a long time, but the fight against Islamist influence is a long-term job. “

General Delegate of the Foundation for Equal Opportunities, which covers 200 priority education establishments, Carole Diamant has long taught in high schools in the popular suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis and has published a book, Minefield school, from 2005 where she evokes community tensions.

In 2004, the very alarmist Obin report

“This is the time when the Tabligh invaded the cities. We have seen things change ” insists the teacher. Shortly before his work, another book caused a stir, the lost territories of the republic, written by a group of teachers to denounce the anti-Semitism at work in the neighborhoods. At the beginning of these years 2000, the debate agitates the world of education, on the question of an underestimation or an overestimation of this threat.

Several national education executives produce a report coordinated by Inspector General Jean-Pierre Obin “On signs and manifestations of religious affiliation in schools”. The very alarmist document landed on the desk of the then education minister, François Fillon, who was not going to make it public. The parliament has just adopted the law prohibiting the conspicuous wearing of religious symbols in an attempt to put an end to 15 years of tension on the Muslim veil (The first affair of Creil’s scarves dates back to 1989) and does not want to compromise a return to school which promises to be high risk.

The report will eventually leak into the press and maintain the idea that the institution is locked in denial for a long time.

A council of the wise and secularism

However, the ministers who succeeded one another in the rue de Grenelle will try by successive touches to strengthen the republican school. In 2013, the socialist Vincent Peillon created “moral and civic education” which opens up a path for high school students, from second to final, around subjects such as the rule of law, beliefs, ethics … A first charter secularism is written to be displayed in all establishments.

After the 2015 attacks, Minister Najat-Vallaud Belkacem disseminated a secularism booklet and launched a teacher training program and set up a secularity referent in each academy. Barely installed in the ministry, Jean Michel Blanquer created in 2018 a council of wise men and secularism chaired by sociologist Dominique Schnapper and strengthens the network by setting up field teams responsible for intervening in each situation.

Secretary General of the Council, Alain Sekzig, recognizes that the institution has changed, but he nevertheless underlines a still strong reluctance to name things. “When there were incidents during the minute of silence observed for Charlie in 2015, we immediately sought to minimize the problem. However, it is essential to know how to clearly name things and that is what we lacked for a long time. “

935 incidents reported last year

In Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, it seems, according to the current state of information, that the management chain – head of establishment, rectorate – intervened and managed to restore serenity in the establishment, before the tragedy took hold. tied outside of school, via social networks. But this event, unprecedented in the history of national education, will in any case cause a real earthquake in the school world and question the conditions for exercising the profession. According to the last assessment of the Council of Elders presented a few days ago, 935 incidents related to secularism were reported between September 2019 and March 2020 (before confinement).

The figure seems moderate, in view of the mass of the workforce. But it would only reflect a part of the difficulties that teachers face on a daily basis. According to an Ifop poll conducted in 2018 for the National Secular Action Committee, 37% of teachers claim to have already self-censored “In order to avoid possible incidents caused by some students “. Former head of the SNPDEN school leaders union, Philippe Tournier, now principal in Paris, recognizes that in moral and civic education (EMC) courses, students sometimes stick to agreed words. “They answer what is expected of them but think no less. But it is illusory to believe that with one hour per week, we can change mentalities. “ In a new book he has just published (1), Jean-Pierre Obin insists on the lack of support for teachers. Continuing education is “For three decades the poor relation of this ministry”. As for the recruitment competitions, no test checks what they know about secularism deplores the former civil servant.

“Do we want to rekindle a civil war? “

Since the conflict in Conflans, voices have been rising to denounce the influence of Islam on the school climate and the content of teaching and to demand a new secular offensive. The right returns to the charge on the ban on the wearing of the veil by mothers who accompany school trips. This context worries part of the teaching world. “In the field, a lot of things are settled through dialogue”, observes Frédérique Rolet, from Snes, the majority secondary union.

On condition of anonymity, a senior executive from the rue de Grenelle fears that, far from appeasing the climate, we will not dig a little more the gap with part of the Muslim youth. In October, Jean-Michel Blanquer claimed that the Islamic veil was not “Not desirable” in the society. “What do we want to do, rekindle a civil war? “ worries the official.

Without any illusions about the harshness of the fight against political Islam, Carole Diamant calls for her part not to panic. “Everywhere, even in the most difficult places, there are teachers who are fighting and finding the confidence of the students. The threat is strong but we did not lose, far from it ”, estimates the professor of philosophy.


30 years of stress at school

1989: Case of the scarves of Creil (Val-d’Oise). Three veiled high school girls are excluded from their high school.

2002: Debray report on the development of religious education.

2004 : Law prohibiting the conspicuous wearing of religious symbols at school.

2012: Ministerial circular from Luc Chatel which prohibits the wearing of the veil for the mothers of pupils during school outings.

François Hollande sets up the observatory of secularism.

2013: The Council of State considers that accompanying persons are not subject to the duty of neutrality.

Minister Vincent Peillon presents his law for the overhaul of the school which introduces moral and civic education courses in high school. Drafting of a secularism charter displayed in all establishments.

2015 : Establishment of a secularist referent in each academy.

2017: Jean-Michel Blanquer created the Council of Elders from secularism to national education. It sets up secularity referent teams in each academy.

2020: A law against separatism will be presented on December 9.


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