"Islamo-leftism": Vidal summoned to explain himself to the Council of State

Frédérique Vidal leaves the Elysée Palace after the ministerial council on June 9, 2021.

POLITICS – Part of the university world strikes back. Four months after Frederique Vidal’s declarations on the “Islamo-leftism which plagues the university”, and without news of the investigation which was to be launched in the wake, the newspaper The world reveals that 6 teacher-researchers are attacking the minister for “abuse of power”.

Interim proceedings and an annulment appeal were thus filed with the Council of State on April 13. They ask the Minister of Higher Education and Research to officially and definitively renounce this investigation “which flouts academic freedom and threatens to submit to political control, beyond the social sciences alone, research as a whole. ”.

On May 7, the Council of State declared itself incompetent and transmitted the request for annulment to the ministry to question it on its position and confirm whether a commission of inquiry does indeed exist. “SEither yes, a committee exists with such and such a member, or no – it is most likely – there is no committee of inquiry ”explains Fabien Jobard, one of the applicants, CNRS researcher, political science researcher whose research focuses on penal institutions and the rule of law.

“The Minister of Higher Education now has two months to demonstrate that her decision does not constitute a misuse of the powers and attributions entrusted to her”, indicate the applicants’ lawyers, Vincent Brengarth and William Bourdon, for whom “he It is essential that the Minister take responsibility for either the decision or the back-pedaling ”.

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Threat to academic freedom

On Sunday February 14, on CNews, the minister and former president of the University of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis had declared against all expectations: “I think that Islamo-leftism plagues society as a whole and that the university does not is not waterproof, it is part of society ”. She had also announced to entrust an investigation to the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in order to distinguish, in French research, “what is academic and what is activism, opinion”, by targeting in particular “postcolonial studies”.

This position had sparked an outcry within the majority and in the academic world, including among university presidents who had called forraise the debate. A petition from researchers and academics had “forcefully called for the resignation of Frédérique Vidal”, denouncing a threat to academic freedoms yet protected by the Education Code.

Counter report

For Fanny Gallot, lecturer in history at the University of Paris-Est-Créteil, and who is one of the 6 researchers to have approached the Council of State, “this appeal marks the fact that the limits have been largely exceeded. Today, the offensive is very strong and it is authorized by Frédérique Vidal ”.

It is intimidation, even though there was no real commission of inquiry. To be able to take on talking about certain subjects, you have to be a working teacher, otherwise it’s too risky ”, adds Caroline Ibos, lecturer in political science at Rennes-II University.

In April, the sociologist Michel Wieviorka had submitted a report to the Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal on the supposed “Islamo-leftism” at the university, after having taken up the question himself. He pointed to a “problem not non-existent, but very, very secondary”.

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The sociologist, however, pointed to tensions in the academic world between “two universes of research, one, classic, of studying questions of racism or anti-Semitism, and a newer universe of postcolonial, decolonial and intersectionality studies. ”.

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