Frédéric Vidal, the French Minister of Higher Education and Research, who rarely speaks publicly, angered the political and academic circles this week after she made statements about the “left sympathetic to Islamists”, in an expression suggesting a rapprochement between Islamists and the extreme left.
The minister has remained silent so far, despite the concerns of students suffering from the Covid-19 crisis, and many of them blame her for not understanding their desperate situation and delaying action regarding their circumstances.
And in a country still under shock after the killing of a history professor in October by the hand of a Chechen militant who beheaded, the minister faced a wave of condemnation following her statements last Sunday to “CNNs” about “the left sympathetic to Islamists”, warning that “he is invading the entire society, and the university is not immune.” about him”.
Federic Vidal went further on Tuesday, announcing that she had asked the National Center for Scientific Research to compile a “list of all researches” underway in France to distinguish between what falls in the context of academic research and what belongs to the political struggle.
The French social researcher Pierre Andre Tageyev coined the phrase “the left sympathetic to the Islamists” (Islamo Gushism) in the first decade of the millennium “to refer to the forms of deviation in the ranks of the left highly sympathetic to the Palestinians towards anti-Semitism.” This concept expanded later and the extreme right started using it.
The minister’s comments sparked condemnation among university students.
More than 600 workers in higher education demanded her resignation Saturday, in an article published in “Le Monde” newspaper, taking on her “the threat of intellectual suppression” under the guise of the investigation of “the left that sympathizes with Islamists.”
Vidal was subjected to a torrent of criticism on social networks, and President Emmanuel Macron rebuked her through government spokesman Gabriel Atal, who stated that “the priority for the government is, of course, to put students in the midst of the health crisis, and of course it is the possibility to provide financial support to students in difficult circumstances, and to allow For students wishing to do so to gradually return to personally coming to the university ».
“The absolute president’s adherence to the independence of research professors,” Atal stressed.
The National Center for Scientific Research stated that the expression “left, sympathetic to Islamists” does not correspond to “any scientific reality,” while university presidents expressed “their astonishment.”
The economist, Thomas Piketty, also asked for the minister’s departure in an interview with the newspaper “Liberation”. “Frederick Vidal demonstrated through her statements, her complete lack of culture and her total ignorance of research in the field of social sciences,” he said, adding that “this is completely irresponsible at a time when the extreme right stands at the gates of power in many regions and at the national level.”