Secularism: the ministry warns about religious outfits in schools

Unlike his predecessor, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye communicates little on the issue of secularism in schools and when he talks about it, it is with great caution. In June, he indicated, in ” university ” that he had ” need data before you can act on Islamic attire. However, figures from the Central Territorial Intelligence Service, disclosed on June 14, reported 144 breaches of the 2004 law on secularism in schools in the second quarter of 2022 against 97 in the first three months of the year.

Challenging the 2004 law

In Paris, in particular, principals and teachers were alarmed about the proliferation of Islamic outfits (abayas, jilbabs and qamis) last spring, during Ramadan. Questioned on September 4 by La Dépêche du Midi on Islamism and anti-Semitism at school, Pap Ndiaye affirmed again – while condemning them – that he ” would be careful not to generalize these phenomena “. More recently, we have not seen him publicly support a threatened teacher in Paris: the brother of a first-grade student from Simone-Weil high school (IIIe) who refused to take off her veil on a school trip on September 16, threatened the accompanying teacher with death. He was arrested while he was on his way to do battle with the teacher, and released on Sunday, September 20, under judicial supervision.

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However, the rue de Grenelle is not idle. Since August, the national pole Republic values of the ministry sent notes to the rectorates on the wearing of “ostensibly” religious outfits. In a letter sent to all the academies of France, they point out ” a mobilization on social networks aimed at challenging the 2004 law prohibiting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols at school », revealed the Express. A letter from the Dijon rectorate relayed this alert to the heads of establishments. The rector mentions a “ encouragement to wear clothing marking a religious affiliation “, but also ” calls to prayer in establishments ” or some ” invitations to blackmail the photo of young Muslim women exposed “. And calls for firm compliance with the 2004 law.” It was time for the ministry to react officially notes a teacher working in Haute-Garonne, “ this movement is certainly not new. But it has been growing since last year in many establishments. Some of my young colleagues are very uncomfortable when they face a student wearing an abaya [vêtement large couvrant l’ensemble du corps, qui se porte au-dessus d’autres vêtements] for example. For them, it is not necessarily a religious sign… »

Death threats on social media

Several messages, on social networks, from accounts revolving around the Islamist movement call into question the principle of secularism at school », also alert a note of the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalization (CIPDR), at the end of August: incitement to prayer within the school, conflicts between educational staff and students, etc. The committee has also observed in recent months, “ an upsurge in threatening messages », Aiming in particular at the principal education advisers whose identity or even address has been communicated on social networks.

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At the end of June, an investigation had precisely been opened following death threats made against a member of the education staff of the Lycée Charlemagne, in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. This principal education adviser had asked a student to remove her veil during a baccalaureate exam. After more than half an hour of lively discussion, the candidate had finally agreed to remove her veil before being accompanied to her examination room. But the next day, the high school official had been the target of death threats on social networks, with some Internet users calling for her identity to be revealed.

Secularism: the ministry warns about religious outfits in schools