After the September 11 attacks, a rowdy minute of silence in French schools

Teachers, like everyone else, remember the moment: when they learned that a first airliner, then a second, had just crashed into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York. For one, it is the principal who enters, face defeated, into the teachers’ room. For the other, it is the students, upon returning from lunch, who announce the event. A third, a very young teacher, had just left class and turned on the radio in his car.

The next Friday’s minute of silence is more blurry for many. Some claim not to have done it in class, others have trouble remembering what was said. This tribute of September 14, 2001 is however an important moment, “Announcer” some will say later: for the first time, students refused to participate in a commemoration.

“Some have asked us why we were doing a minute’s silence for Americans, and not for world hungerremembers François Da Rocha-Carneiro, vice-president of the Association of History-Geography Teachers and professor in Roubaix. In my memory, these pupils had above all a feeling of injustice, which is something sensitive in the teenagers. “

Read also the archive (2015): The codes of silence

The teacher remembers that the teachers’ room was also divided on the subject: some refused to participate in a commemoration that “Fell on it” without explanation. Sébastien Ledoux, researcher in history at the University of Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne, who has carried out research on the minutes of silence in schools, assures that he remains “Few traces” debates that took place at the time. But certainly, according to him, “Teachers refused to participate”.

200 “incidents” after the Charlie Hebdo attack

The incidents during the commemorations that followed the 2001 attacks in the United States and 2004 in Madrid will be recorded in the report on “Signs and manifestations of religious affiliation in schools” of the Inspector General of National Education Jean-Pierre Obin, handed over in June 2004 to the then minister, François Fillon. The Obin report, a time ignored by the institution, is now well known to school stakeholders.

“I have even been told of songs to the glory of Bin Laden in a school bus. But at the time, nobody believed us ”, Jean-Pierre Obin will point out, during a hearing in the Senate devoted to the disturbed minutes of silence, in 2015, following the attacks against Charlie hebdo and the Hyper Cacher in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne), on January 7. A teacher auditioned for the same investigation said that her students sang propalestinian songs.

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