Thursday, March 4

A week of controversy on “Islamo-leftism” summarized in five acts

No one can really define what “Islamo-leftism” is. Is it a simple touting expression used by the far right or a real current of thought theorized by political scientist Pierre-André Taguieff? Despite these uncertainties in both substance and form, “Islamo-leftism” has been in the headlines for over a week now. Starting point: the opening of an investigation within universities suspected of hosting and even spreading the phenomenon there, according to the Minister in charge of Higher Education and Research, Frédérique Vidal.

  • Sunday February 14: on CNEWS, Vidal lights the fuse and requests an investigation

Let us first give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer is the first to have brought the expression up to date. “Our society has been far too permeable to currents of thought”, declared the minister on Europe 1, end of October. “What is called Islamo-leftism is wreaking havoc.” At the time, his words outraged the Conference of University Presidents (CPU). But the news around the epidemic, on the eve of a national reconfinement, quickly regains the upper hand.

“Islamo-leftism” therefore circulates quietly during the winter. An article in Le Figaro, Feb. 11, says it is gaining ground in universities. Asked about this by the experienced Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, on Sunday February 14, on CNews, the Minister of Higher Education and Research puts, against all expectations, a part in the machine. “I think that Islamo-leftism is corrupting society as a whole and that the university is not impermeable, it is part of society”, book Frédérique Vidal, who, after the words of Jean-Michel Blanquer, s ‘was split from a platform in l’Opinion affirming that “The university is not a place of encouragement or expression of fanaticism”.

The minister then goes further, by announcing to entrust an investigation to the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) with the aim of distinguishing, in French research, “what is academic and what is activism, the ‘opinion”.

  • Tuesday February 16: the minister persists and signs

The political reaction was not long in coming. “We are shocked by these witch hunts worthy of another regime. What are you referring to, (…) you have nothing else to do but start a thought police?” Asks on Tuesday February 16 the deputy Bénédicte Taurine (LFI), during questions to the government.

But Frédérique Vidal is not dismantled. “The university is not waterproof, it is crossed by all currents of society, the role of the university is always to study them, to understand them, to allow this contradictory debate to take place rather than these caricatures. and to ensure that precisely, as always within universities and the world of research, the debate is conducted between peers, ”explains the Minister. The investigation is confirmed.

  • Wednesday February 17: “Islamo-leftism” is not a scientific reality, scolds the CNRS

The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) acknowledges receipt of the request. But doesn’t seem really willing to follow through. “The current controversy around Islamogauchism, and the political exploitation which is made of it, is emblematic of a regrettable instrumentalisation of science. It is neither the first nor the last, it concerns many sectors beyond human sciences and social sciences (…) The CNRS strongly condemns those who try to take advantage of it to call into question academic freedom, essential to the scientific approach and the advancement of knowledge, or to stigmatize certain scientific communities, “writes the public body on its website on Wednesday, February 17. A first snub.

Earlier, the CPU called for “to stop the confusion and sterile controversy”. Politically, the minister seems lonely. “I recalled the president’s absolute attachment to the independence of teacher-researchers”, “it is a fundamental guarantee of our Republic” and “this conception is shared by all members of the government and will continue to be defended, “said government spokesman Gabriel Attal in this regard.

  • Saturday February 20: the academic world calls for the resignation of Frédérique Vidal

“As in Orban’s Hungary, Bolsonaro’s Brazil, or Duda’s Poland, postcolonial and decolonial studies, work on racial discrimination, gender studies and intersectionality are precisely targeted.” The comparison, signed by a collective of academics in a column published by The world, Saturday February 20, is fraught with meaning. It places Emmanuel Macron’s France alongside the most repressive regimes on the planet against its intellectuals. And asks, in reaction to the controversy, the resignation of the minister.

“Frédérique Vidal takes up the conspiracy theme” Islamo-leftism “and designates us guilty of rotting the university. She wants to launch an investigation, threatens to divide and punish us, wants to reign suspicion and fear, and flout our academic freedoms. We consider such a minister unworthy to represent us and we ask, with force, his resignation “, adds the collective, attached to a petition bringing together to date more than 18,000 signatures, mostly coming from higher education teachers and some political figures like Yannick Jadot (EELV).

The same day, Jean-Michel Blanquer comes out of the woods and supports his colleague on BFMTV, claiming that “Islamo-leftism” is “an unmistakable social fact“.

  • Sunday February 21: the government and the minister in search of appeasement

The next day, on the front page of Sunday newspaper, Frédérique Vidal ensures that the issue of Islamo-leftism is not her priority. “Today, what concerns me is the question of students” in the face of the crisis, she deflates, while expressing “regrets” about the controversy. Without however giving up the famous investigation requested from the CNRS, whose report is expected “in the coming months”. “I want a rational and scientific approach to the subject,” she defends.

Guest of the program “Le Grand Jury” (RTL-LCI-Le Figaro) Sunday noon, Gabriel Attal also tries to calm the controversy. “I do not deny certain isolated situations, let alone deny the fact that they must be answered,” said the government spokesperson. The student problem should not take a back seat. Too late ?

“The University is hostage to an ideology which, instead of studying reality, looks for culprits: to denounce a ‘white privilege’, a part of the left compromises with Islamism. Yes, we must resist this racist and liberticidal drift which threatens the unity of our country “, analyzes, the next day, – once again on CNews – European deputy LRFrançois-Xavier Bellamy. The investigation desired by Vidal? A semblance of “McCarthyism”, denounces the historian Pascal Blanchard. And the week resumes as it started.


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