by Giulio Meotti
The French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer,divulged to RTL microphones that since Samuel Paty’s beheading in broad daylight, there have been 800 incidents linked to Islamic radicalism. The most sensational case concerns another professor. Not a middle school one, like the teacher of History and Geography beheaded at the college of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine for showing cartoons on Mohammed, but a university jurist.“She doesn’t want her name to be published or take on the role of the sacrificial figure of censorship that is devouring academia”, says weekly Le Point. Literally.
“Caroline L.” is a professor at the Faculty of Law of Aix-Marseille. For talking about “sexually transmitted religions” during a master’s degree, she received a complaint from the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (League for the Rights of Man) and countless death threats. Two months after Paty’s murder, this case of another teacher accused of Islamophobia reveals the tragic cracks that fragment academia, freedom of expression and human rights in France.
“I am deeply saddened by what I consider an attack on free speech and academic freedoms,” says the teacher. She was accused of “Islamophobic” claims and the Aix-en-Provence prosecutor opened an investigation for “public insults for belonging to religions.”
The Mediapart website, directed by Edwy Plenel, accused of being the leader of a phenomenon known as “Islamogoscism,” published an excerpt from her university course on Zoom on October 27, eleven days after Paty’s murder. The professor explains there that “there is no freedom of conscience in Islam. If you were born to a Muslim father, you are a Muslim for life. A kind of sexually transmitted religion. One of the biggest problems we have with Islam, and unfortunately it is not the only one, is that Islam does not recognize freedom of conscience. It is absolutely terrifying.”
Students passed the file on to the Human Rights League and the complaint begins. Thousands of death threats come around. The teacher tells Le Point: “Two months after the murder of a teacher, we are in a total inversion of values! I am threatened with death. My words do not contravene any law. We have the right to express an opinion or criticism on any idea. My observations refer to Islam and not to Muslims.”
There is a risk of conviction. “If this were the case, it would mean that in France we would admit the crime of opinion and forbid academics from making critical judgments about a religion, a political idea or anything else … It would be very serious and would mean that very soon it would be necessary to organize large auto-da-fés to burn the works of Voltaire who made virulent observations on religions, especially the Catholic one.”
No remorse. “If you ask me if I regret being insulted and threatened with death, living in fear for my family and I, of course I regret it. I regret living in a society where academics can find themselves hindered in their freedom of speech, that is, in their work.”
Samuel Paty was beheaded. Mila, the high school student guilty of having insulted Islam, is too “radioactive” to set foot in a school again.
To the few academics who speak their minds, it seems that the only “choice” is the same one that Islamic fundamentalists left for the French people in Algeria at the time of its decolonizationt: the suitcase or the coffin.