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France, Minister Launches Investigation into “Islamo-Leftism’ in University Research.

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Islamo-Leftism is not a scientific reality – Centre national de la recherche scientifique

In a counterpart to the UK government’s sudden interest in academia this story has been at the top of French news for the last week.

Minister orders probe into ‘Islamo-leftism’ in French academic research

Speaking on French TV on Sunday, Vidal alluded to Islamo-leftism, which she said was “eating away” at society in general, and that the universities were not immune.

“What you notice in universities is that there is a minority of people who use their academic aura and qualifications…to advance radical or militant ideas.”

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In a statement in reaction to the proposed probe, the Confederation of University Presidents expressed its “astonishment in the face of another pointless row about Islamo-leftism in universities”.

“If the government needs analysis, argument, scientific back-up to help it rise above its grotesque caricatures and petty nit-picking, then universities are ready and waiting,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, MP Julien Aubert, of the mainstream right wing LR party, welcomed Vidal’s move. He declared that the creation of such a fact-finding mission was urgent, so that parliament might address the issue.

The minister also announced that among the issues to be examined by the CNRS is research into post-colonialism.

She said it was “essential” that France’s social science and humanities departments study such such subjects.

French academics blast minister’s warning on ‘Islamo-leftism’

French Higher Education, Research and Innovation Minister Frederique Vidal addresses the National Assembly in Paris on January 12, 2021. © Christophe Archambault, AFP

The French minister for higher education has sparked a backlash from university heads after warning about the spread of “Islamo-leftism” in the country’s academic institutions.

The term “Islamo-leftism” is often used in France by far-right politicians to discredit left-wing opponents they accuse of being blind to the dangers of Islamist extremism and overly worried about racism and identity.

“I think that Islamo-leftism is eating away at our society as a whole, and universities are not immune and are part of our society,” Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal told CNews television on Sunday.

The comments came amid a divisive debate in France about what President Emmanuel Macron has termed “Islamist separatism,” in which Islamists are said to be flouting French laws in closed-off Muslim communities and fuelling terror attacks on French soil.

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Vidal also announced that she would order an investigation into the problem of researchers “looking at everything through the prism of wanting to fracture and divide”, which she said included those focused on colonialism and race.

The National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the research body Vidal charged with the study, has already hit back.

Although it agreed to carry out the investigation, the CNRS condemned “attempts to delegitimise different fields of research such as post-colonial studies”.

Asked to comment further in parliament on Tuesday, Vidal said the investigation would determine “what is academic research and what is activism and opinion”.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal appeared to distance himself from the idea on Wednesday when asked for Macron’s views on the issue at a news briefing.

The president has an “absolute commitment to the independence of academic researchers”, Attal said, adding that it was “a fundamental guarantee of our republic”.

In further responses academics have protested at the claims:

 

More protests:

 

As this tweet says, Le monde has an excellent article on the background (I have a sub to the on-line paper). It even mentions our dear old SWP and Chris Harman’s The Prophet and the Proletariat (1994)  – though not the Respect Coalition which was a bloc between right-wing Islamists. softer Islamists, and left groups, like the SWP, and, latterly Counterfire, behind George Galloway. This illustrates that there have indeed been political alliances which could be said to be Islamo-leftists, though few would class Galloway as left-wing these days.

« Islamo-gauchisme » : histoire tortueuse d’une expression devenue une invective

 

Part of the radical left took  another path. In 1994, British journalist Chris Harman, a member of the Socialist Workers Party central committee, theorised, in an article called “The Prophet and the Proletariat”, “the need for a strategic alliance with the Islamists”. “In the past,” he writes, “ the left made the mistake of seeing Islamists as fascists, with whom we have nothing in common. “ But Islamism, he adds, ” has emerged in societies traumatized by the impact of capitalism. ” It is therefore strategically useful and possible to convert these young people to a different approach, that is to say “socialist, independent and revolutionary”.If he did  not use the term Islamo-leftism, the idea of ​​an alliance in the face of a common enemy – capitalist, Zionist, American – is clearly stated here. In France, the text was reproduced in a book, Islamisme et Révolution, by the small group Socialisme par en bas (SPEB), which would go onto  join the LCR.

Islamo-leftism

Essays in Libération and France 24 on the history of this term do not claim to find the definitive origin of this term, rather, both publications trace the term as far back as a 2002 use in New Judeophobia, a book by Pierre-André Taguieff, historian of ideas, who describes Islamo-fascism as a type of anti-Zionism popular among “the new third-worldist, neo-communist and neo-leftist configuration, better known as the ‘anti-globalisation movement“.[3][4] Interviewed in 2016 by Liberation journalists Sonya Faure and Frantz Durupt, Taguieff is not certain whether he coined it or had heard it used, but he points out that the phrases Islamo-progressives and in the 1980s Palestino-progressives were used as self-descriptions by the French left.[3]

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The fact is that a large section of the British left opposed Respect and any alliance with Islamists.

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2021 at 4:43 pm