a professor facing radicalization

a professor facing radicalization

Amal, a free spirit *

by Jawad Rhalib

Belgian film, 1h51

In just a few films, the teachers' room has become a place of cinematic tension where all the issues of school intersect, from pedagogy to authority to accusations of harassment, offering directors a mirror of our societies.

Belgian film, Amal, a free spirit this time tackles the issue of religious radicalization head-on, referring to painful news – that of the assassination of Samuel Paty – and questioning the right attitude to adopt in the face of rising tensions within the school. Should we give up and not make waves or, on the contrary, take the problem head on, at the risk of flaring up?

A heroine without fear

This is the question that this film poses without providing any answers, as the oppositions here are binary. A young girl, Monia, is beaten up by her classmates at the end of high school and then harassed on social networks because she is suspected of liking girls. Faced with this incident, the management of the establishment pronounced a sanction against the perpetrators but did not intend to go further.

Amal, a committed literature teacher, herself from a Muslim family, does not intend to remain idly faced with the indoctrination of her students for whom homosexuality is contrary to religion. She then suggests that they study the texts of an ancient Arab poet glorifying both the love of God and carnal passions. Considered a provocation by the parents of the students, his initiative will ignite the powder.

The Belgian education system is different from ours in that there are religion courses within it, the content of which is not subject to any control. Rather convincing when the director Jawad Rhalib describes the way in which the Salafists exert pressure on the Muslim community and infiltrate in an insidious way even to the school benches, the film is less so in the portrait he makes of the teacher.

A fearless heroine, Amal overcomes threats and intimidation to see her fight through to the end. But his determination screens the nuance here, and the debates in the teachers' room quickly come to an end. Actress Lubna Azabal takes on the role with conviction but her character, whose past we barely touch on, is a little too caricatured to gain support. And we would have liked to be more on the side of young people to understand what exactly is at stake in the relationship between teachers and their students.

• No ! * Why not ** Good film *** Very good film **** Masterpiece

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