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The government wants a CNRS audit on “Islamo-leftism” at the university



The Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal announced on February 16 that she was going to ask the CNRS “A review of all the research” carried out in the field of social sciences in order to distinguish between what relates to academic work and what relates to activism. The previous weekend, on the Cnews channel, she had denounced the influence of “Islamo-leftism” in academia, taken aback on Tuesday by his announcement.

The next day – a sign that the subject is hot – the government spokesperson wished to recall “Absolute attachment [d’Emmanuel Macron] the independence of teacher-researchers ”. For Gabriel Attal, “It is a fundamental guarantee of our Republic” and “This conception is shared by all members of the government”.

Change of tone

Maybe not so simple … From October 2020, following the words of the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, on “The ravages of Islamo-leftism”, her colleague had initially kept his distance. Frédérique Vidal was content with a forum reaffirming the university’s vocation to defend freedom of thought and the debate of ideas.

→ ANALYSIS. “Islamo-leftism”, an ambiguous notion brandished everywhere after the Conflans attack

Change of tone, therefore. The Minister justifies this “Audit” of the CNRS by the phenomenon “Academics prevented by others from carrying out their research [et] their studies “. In one “Manifesto of the 100” published in The world at the end of October, teachers and researchers denounced “Indigenist, racialist and decolonial ideologies” who feed “Sometimes violent activism”.

At the origin of this manifesto, Pierre-André Taguieff (1) claims the paternity – to better denounce it – of the term “Islamo-leftism”, at the beginning of the 2000’s. “We are then witnessing the convergence between militants of the far left and Islamist currents who are united in the Palestinian cause. Then there appeared movements such as the Indigènes de la République, with relays in the academic world, in sociology, in political science ”, explains this member of the Observatory of decolonialism and identity ideologies.

Political interference

Was it necessary to launch such a “Audit” ? Since Tuesday, February 16, critics have been fanning out. We ask the CNRS to become the beef-carrots of the university!, chokes a member of the prestigious house. There has never been such a frontal attack on the university ”. In a press release, the CNRS condemns the “Current controversy around” Islamogauchism “, and the political exploitation that is made of it”, iconic “A regrettable instrumentalisation of science”. However, the CNRS says it is available for “Participate in the production of the study (…) aiming to shed scientific light on the fields of research concerned”.

Jean-Loup Salzmann, former president of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), accuses the minister of wanting “Instrumentalising research for political ends”. Opposing the CNRS and the university is, according to him, “All the more surprising given that in the human and social sciences, the CNRS is hosted by the university, within the framework of mixed laboratories”.

For its part, the Vigilance Universities network, created in 2016 against “The entryism of identity ideologies” does not view ministerial intervention favorably either. Criticizing a managerial drift in higher education which reduces “The place of science in the face of administration”, this network deplores this political interference while reproaching university authorities for denial of the Islamist threat.

Jean-Loup Salzmann recognizes that “The university is not waterproof” ideologies but ensures that opinions qualified as Islamo-leftists “Remain very marginal there. “ For Pierre-André Taguieff, it will be precisely the interest of the mission to establish the diagnosis awaited for years. “It is not a question of underestimating or overestimating the problem”, assures the intellectual.

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