313 breaches were noted in September and 720 in October. The wearing of signs and outfits is still the most represented category.
On December 9, secularism day, the Ministry of National Education and Youth revealed the latest figures on attacks on secularism, now published every month following a commitment by “transparency” taken by Minister Pap Ndiaye. Interesting data, but which must be examined with caution, in particular because they are not exhaustive.
In November, 353 reports of attacks on the principle of secularism were recorded, against 720 in October and 313 in September. Be one “decrease” compared to last month “encourages us to continue to ensure that the law of 2004 is applied [sur les signes religieux à l’école, NDLR.] with firmness and discernment, while supporting the educational teams and training the staff», commented Pap Ndiaye on Franceinfo. 16% of these facts took place in the first degree, 48% in colleges and 36% in high schools. The perpetrators are mostly students (85%), but also some parents of students (7%) or staff (5%).
As in September and October, these attacks on secularism mainly concern the wearing of signs and outfits (39%). “Two situations are identified: the wearing of signs ostensibly manifesting a religious affiliation and the wearing of outfits which do not by nature manifest a religious affiliation, such as long skirts or dresses, abayas and qamis”, specifies the Rue de Grenelle. This is followed by verbal provocations (12%), suspicions of proselytism (12%), teaching disputes (10%), community demands (8%), refusals of school activities (8%) and refusals of republican values (4%).
At the same time as this feedback from the field collected by the ministry, Ifop produced for the review Screensaver an online survey of 1,009 teachers in metropolitan France. According to this survey, since September 2021, 30% of teachers have been confronted with teaching challenges in the name of religion and 23% have had students wear religious headgear (veil, yarmulke, etc.). Among these 23%, a little less than one in two teachers (48%) did not report this incident to the administration. This confirms that the figures for rue de Grenelle are not completely exhaustive.
Still according to Ifop, just over half of teachers (52%) have already self-censored in their teaching to avoid possible incidents on religious issues. This proportion rises to 65% in establishments classified as priority education networks (REP), qualified as “front line of the cultural battle waged by influencers and other Islamist activists” by François Kraus, director of the political division of Ifop. History and geography teachers are the most affected by this self-censorship: 64%, against 58% for their literature colleagues or 51% for those in physical education and sports.
In addition, a little more than two years after the assassination of Samuel Paty at the end of his college in Yvelines, a majority of teachers fear being confronted with a conflictual situation in terms of secularism. 62% are afraid of presenting caricatures of religious figures in class, 59% of having to manage situations of pupils who want to wear traditional and/or religious outfits, 43% of addressing certain historical subjects such as the Shoah or the conflict Israeli-Palestinian. “The France of teachers is afraid, and develops strategies to avoid potentially conflicting subjects”comments François Kraus.
SEE ALSO – Secularism at school: the uniform “would not solve the question”, says Pap Ndiaye