“We must not minimize the pressures emanating from the ultras who set themselves up as defenders of French identity”

In March 2021, the names of two colleagues [accusés d’islamophobie] were posted on the walls of a university establishment in Grenoble, accompanied by serious insults. The supervising minister had immediately published a firm condemnation, followed by an official campaign ensuring their defence. This reactivity is unfortunately variable in geometry. Recently, several colleagues, teachers or teacher-researchers, received death threats without the hierarchy intervening publicly to denounce the seriousness of the facts.

The modus operandi is now well established: online defamatory campaign, dissemination of the name and photo of the person concerned, flood of insults on social networks, in e-mails as well as in some of the press and television, with, as a result, death threats that could not be more explicit. These attacks deserve only disdain, as they feed on fantasies disconnected from reality. But we know, since the atrocious assassination of Samuel Patythat the infernal machine can get carried away until the passage to the act perpetrated by a single individual.

It would be wrong to take seriously the only threats brandished in the name of jihadist terrorism, while it would be necessary to systematically minimize those emanating from the ultras who set themselves up as defenders of French identity or as inquisitors of a so-called republican order. .


Why do the authorities refrain, in this second case, from taking any position in the media, renouncing to defend the civil servants attacked in the exercise of their profession? Why don’t they systematically grant attacked colleagues full and systematic functional protection allowing them the necessary legal and financial support? This reluctance leaves the field open to slanderers who pollute public debate by diverting freedom of expression.

Read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers A hundred academics warn: “On Islamism, what threatens us is the persistence of denial”

We solemnly address our supervising ministers – Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research, and Pap Ndiaye, Minister of National Education and Youth –, rectors and rectors, leaders of organizations of research, to university presidents: do not wait for the worst to happen to grant the necessary protection to women and men threatened in their lives and their honor because they fully assume their teaching and research missions respecting public freedoms. If you oppose silence and inaction to the outrages we suffer, it will be so much encouragement to obscurantism. We are counting on you to proclaim loud and clear that critical debate, if necessary, cannot lead to violence. To refuse intellectual and political defeat and proclaim loud and clear the power of thought.

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