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Secularism at school: new figures and an alarming survey

What is really the extent of attacks on secularism at school? On this Thursday, December 9, Secularism Day, the Ministry of Education publishes new figures, up. Between the start of the school year and mid-November, there were 614 reports, or 67 more than in the previous report (December 2020-March 2021). Several hypotheses are put forward: “A return to fully face-to-face teaching; a trend of increasing reports since the assassination of Samuel Paty last year; the commemoration of the assassination of Samuel Paty, which this year represented a strong event of increased reports. “

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More than half of the facts (51%) concern colleges (+ 6 points). The cause, in 83% of cases, of students, at the origin of verbal provocations (25%, + 12 points), tensions related to the wearing of signs and outfits (14%, + 8 points), refusal of ‘school activities (11%, + 4 points).

Separate toilets according to denomination

Compared to 12 million students, the number of reports seems low. But an Ifop-Licra survey (1), published on the same day, suggests attacks of a completely different magnitude: 47% of students say they have already observed, during their schooling, a request for a “denominational” menu, 31 % avoidance of swimming lessons by young girls, 24% refusal to enter a religious building during a school trip. Similarly, 16% of high school students in the public have already observed the organization of tables in the canteen according to religion, while 15% mention the establishment of separate WCs. A related phenomenon “To religious prescriptions around the notion of purity”, decrypts Jean-Pierre Obin, member of the Licra executive board.

This inspector general who, in 2004, denounced the influence of radical Islam on schools, underlines that “The manifestations of religious separatism are particularly strong in high schools in working-class neighborhoods”. Positive response rates are generally twice as high in “Priority environment”. ” THEhe feeling of relegation to vocational high schools, often present in working-class areas, leads many Muslim students, especially boys, to a religious decline ”, analysis Jean-Louis Auduc, member of the Council of Elders of Secularism.

High school students invited to declare themselves “white” or “non-white”

However, this survey leaves Rémy-Charles Sirvent, Secretary General of the National Secular Action Committee (Cnal) perplexed: “The respondents answered alone on the Internet, so the methodology questions. The pollster even asks high school students to declare themselves as “white” or “non-white”, a surprising approach in an investigation commissioned by the Licra, which fights racialism! “

“This is the first time that we have spoken in a poll of Muslim or non-Muslim high school students, white or not”, also strangles Jean-Paul Delahaye, ex-number two of national education, who sees in this survey “A research-minded secularism that targets only Islam” : “No one denies the existence of tensions, of disputes. But with dialogue and teaching know-how, most of the difficulties are overcome. “ In front of “Teenagers looking for each other”, you have to answer “With firmness, without angelism, because there are indeed Islamist extremists who are testing the Republic”. However, “Let’s not pretend that all Muslim high school students, not white, have infiltrated the school of the Republic to harm it. “

A persistence of “no waves”?

“Inviting respondents to answer in the affirmative if they have encountered the situation at least once led to high results”, notes the history-geo professor Iannis Roder, director of the Education Observatory at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, who nevertheless underlines that “These results are in line with what (he) observes on the ground. For years, studies and surveys have followed and converged. This reality should alert us! “

The comparison of ministerial figures with the poll also questions the propensity of part of the hierarchy to cover up incidents. “The“ no waves ”has not completely disappeared, considers Jean-Pierre Obin. But some teachers keep quiet about the incidents because they managed to resolve the situation on their own. “


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