Sign that the situation is taken very seriously, the Islamologist Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, who has been placed under police protection, will be received this Tuesday, May 23 by three ministers: Sylvie Retailleau, in charge of higher education, and her colleagues from interior, Gérald Darmanin, and citizenship, Sonia Backès.
“There is not the slightest doubt about the ministry’s support and our strongest condemnation of the threats” against him, assures the entourage of Sylvie Retailleau. Since the publication in January of his book investigating the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, the Islamologist has been the target of attacks.
A canceled conference
The cancellation of a lecture she was to give at the Sorbonne on May 12th caused a great stir, some seeing it as a capitulation to Islamist threats, even if the university specified that, for reasons of security in the middle of exam week, the conference was only postponed to June 2.
The controversy has nevertheless awakened the debate on a supposed “Islamo-leftism” at the university, a theme put forward by the previous ministers of education and higher education, Jean-Michel Blanquer and Frédérique Vidal. . In October 2021, a year after the assassination of Professor Samuel Paty, they denounced the compromise of some of the academics and student associations who renounce condemning Islamism in the name of non-stigmatization of Islam. The controversies on the Sciences Po Grenoble campus or the complaint for Islamophobia filed against a law professor in Aix-en-Provence (1) had then revealed a climate of great tension.
Sylvie Retailleau does not intend to reignite this war. “We will not allow the slightest breach of academic freedom, still insures the office of Sylvie Retailleau. But there will be no big offensive, we will deal with the problems on a case-by-case basis. »
The academic Gilles Denis acknowledges that the climate has changed since 2016, when he co-founded the “Vigilance universities” network (which brings together around 300 academics and to which Florence Bergeaud-Blackler belongs) in a context of renewed anti-Semitism and cancellation of cultural events and conferences. “We are no longer being lynched, treated as Islamophobes as was the case then”, he points out. He welcomes the establishment of secular referents in higher education as in all administrations, but remains more critical of the conference of university presidents (now renamed France Universities), of which he regrets the lack of commitment. “We have no news of a request for an appointment made two months ago. » A situation that he regrets all the more since he says he observes a “return of aggressive attitudes in the academic world for a few months”.
Sylvie Retailleau has spent her entire career in university and knows the field very well. “We won’t bury our heads in the sand, but neither will we overplay the difficulty by making it a political object”, assures his entourage, while part of the right and the extreme right tries to weaken the majority by targeting the Minister of National Education, Pap Ndiaye, in the role of a promoter of wokism.
Brotherhood networks better monitored
As for Gérald Darmanin, he is monopolized today by other priorities, in particular his bill on immigration. In the office of the Minister of the Interior, it is especially emphasized that the context has changed. Since the assassination of Samuel Paty, there has been the adoption of the law on separatism, in the summer of 2021, which has initiated a mobilization of the entire state apparatus to strengthen control over networks – schools , mosques, associations – from the Brotherhood movement. “Many have fallen into line”, notes the minister’s entourage, even if we play it safe, noting the reappearance of “a few worrying signs for six to nine months. »