The University of Cergy withdraws a form of detection of radicalization after an outcry

Addressed Monday, October 14 to the staff of the university, the document lists “weak signals” supposed to detect the “process” in students or colleagues.

“Appearance of the veil”, “change of physiognomy” with “beard without a mustache”, “change of clothes” with “wearing a djellaba”, “recurrent absenteeism during prayer hours”, “refusal of the authority of the women, “” stop drinking alcoholic beverages “… These are some of the ” weak signals “ expected to detect a ” process of radicalization “ among students or colleagues.

In any case as they were presented, in a form addressed Monday, October 14, to all staff of the University of Cergy-Pontoise, signed the official security-defense establishment.

Unveiled on social media, excerpts from this document provoked an uproar in academic circles and beyond. Contacted, the president of the university, Francois Germinet, says regret a “very clumsy message . ” The document – which took the form of an Excel file to fill out and to go back to the administration – will be withdrawn and will be neither used nor put at the disposal of the personnel, he announced the evening of Monday. “I understand that this has struck the sensibilities, we will send an email of apology,” he says.

” I am ashamed “

There are two types of threats of terrorist attacks: exogenous and endogenous, we read in this email, that Le Monde consulted in its full version. As for the endogenous threat, that is “when one or more individuals belonging to the structure commit attacks,” prevention is largely based on “the vigilance of all” . With, for the first stage, the “detection of people likely to be in the process of radicalization” . Hence this list of about fifty “signals”, ranging from, for those “related to the behavior of a known person”, the physical appearance to the reintegration of religious practices through the defense of new beliefs.“Safety is everyone’s business,” says the manager, ” reporting events that could have serious consequences is an act of good citizenship. “

“I am ashamed”, immediately reacted on the social network Twitter Clément Carbonnier, lecturer in economics, detailing some of these items, causing hundreds of reactions. Currently visiting professor at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, the academic does not return. “We ask officials to provide information on the religious symbols of students, it is a record against belief, he is moved. We pass a monstrous course, asking clearly to denounce our students or our Muslim colleagues. “See also Sailing at school: Jean-Michel Blanquer calls for sanctions against LRM MP Aurélien Taché

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An outrage shared by some of his colleagues, crawling a list “staggering” . “If I had to use it for self-analysis, I would have a good chance of winning a free trip to Guantanamo,” writes Renaud Epstein, a senior lecturer at Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye (created by Cergy and Versailles).

Minister “disapproves”

Without excusing this “awkwardness”, however, President François Germinet reminds us that “all the State’s operators are called upon to bring back reports of radicalization, not only Islamist, to the services of the prefecture when they are confronted with it” . This is the mission of the security-defense official, present in each university, who also has the cap of “referent radicalization” in Cergy, as in many institutions. This mission was gradually systematized in the faculties as part of the National Plan for the Prevention of Radicalization, announced by the government on February 23, 2018.

“There is no question of making an active search , but the intention remains: it is necessary to inform the colleagues on how to react when a student utters very virulent remarks, that it is of extreme right or Islamists,” he describes . One or two cases of signage at the prefecture intervene every year in this establishment of 20 000 students.

Some people, on October 14, were bound by the attack on the police headquarters on October 3, imagining a prevention initiative by the Ministry of the Interior. In his tribute speech to the four victims of this attack, on October 8, Emmanuel Macron advocated a “society of vigilance” against the “Islamist hydra” , asking “every citizen” to report suspicious behavior.

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On the side of the Ministry of Higher Education, it is stated that no directive to this effect has been given by the State. “I disapprove of the” record of weak signals “, rightly withdrawn by @UniversiteCergy , responded Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, on Twitter. If the fight against radicalization calls the vigilance of everyone, this fight will never win if it is based on prejudices and caricatures. “

A position that is not enough to dispel the discomfort of some. Is it not the ministry of higher education that sent, in September, in all schools, two sheets to display in the teaching spaces, called “Prevent radicalization”?

There are no such details targeting the Muslim religion, but the “distinguishing marks” procedure is similar. Y are listed the “sudden change in behavior (eating habits, clothing …)”, the “ongoing repeated absences,” or the “refusal to shake hands with a person of the opposite sex” . “It is important to share the information without delay,” reads the document, which gives the defense security official the task of developing an “alert chain adapted to the reality on the ground” .

After school, whose role in “reporting” was questioned after Charlie Hebd , here is the university jostled by the same questions. “There is a difference [between the official mission and] to file students electronically, responds Florent Tadard, teacher-researcher at the University Paris-XIII. Nevertheless, this approach strongly resembles a translation of the elements sent by the Ministry of Higher Education, themselves very close to those of national education. “

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