► What happened in the Toulouse academy?
The case was revealed by The Midi Dispatch, May 19: in the Toulouse academy, police asked heads of schools, by email, to tell them the number of students absent on the day of Eid-El-Fitr, a religious holiday which took place this year on April 21, the day before the school holidays. The process was carried out on behalf of the territorial intelligence services, without the approval of the rectorate.
The revelation of the sending of these emails provoked the indignation of politicians and trade unionists, some of whom denounced a “file” Muslim students. The request is “particularly shocking in that it associates Muslim religious practice with a question of security”, also reacted SOS Racisme, recalling that the request came from the departmental directorate of public security. According The world, a senior official of the departmental service of national education sent the same message in the academy of Montpellier. He then canceled his request.
► How does the Ministry of the Interior justify this request?
In a press release published on Sunday May 21, the Secretary of State for Citizenship, Sonia Backès, denied any “registration of students according to their confession, specifying that“no personal data was neither requested nor recorded at any time”. She said the ministry “regularly studies the impact of certain religious holidays on the functioning of public services, and in particular within the school sphere. It is in this context that an assessment of the rate of absenteeism noted on the occasion of the Eid-El-Fitr holiday, on April 21, was requested, in certain academies, from the heads of establishment. »
The answer did not extinguish the controversy. “For which other religious holidays has the Ministry of the Interior requested an assessment of the rate of absenteeism from the heads of establishments? », questioned SOS Racisme, after the publication of the ministerial press release. The Union of French Mosques, for its part, has asked for a “due investigation”.
► Are there precedents?
One of the missions of territorial intelligence is to measure attacks on secularism in schools. Its central service regularly publishes notes on this subject. “To my knowledge, the request made in the Toulouse academy about Eid is a first, commented Bruno Bobkiewicz, secretary general of the National Union of National Education Management Staff. It is very surprising and not extremely reassuring.We are not here on a phenomenon outside the framework, nor on an attack on secularism. »
In fact, on a legal level, students can ask to be absent during major religious holidays which are listed in Official newspaper, including Eid, as stipulated in the circular for the application of the law on the veil, which dates from May 18, 2004. “It’s old and it has never posed any difficulty”, continues the union official, himself headmaster of the Berlioz school complex in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne).
Former director general of school education, Bernard Toulemonde is also surprised ” a lot ” of the procedure followed. “It happened to me in my career to respond to requests for statistics on the number of veiled students, before the law of 2004, but it came from the Ministry of National Educationhe explains. Then, that prefectural or police services contact rectorates, it can be understood. But that they speak directly to headteachers seems odd to me, at least clumsy to say the least. »