The French intelligence services asked dozens of heads of schools in the regions of Montpellier and Toulouse to report the number of absentees during Eid al-Fitr, which aroused great resentment among Muslims. While the Ministry of Interior refused to clarify its position on the issue.
Did the intelligence services want to count the number of Muslim students in schools? The French Mediapart site asks – in a report He began with some media outlets, including Le Monde newspaper, saying that dozens of primary and preparatory schools and even universities and kindergartens in the regions of Montpellier and Toulouse had received this exciting request to give a report on the percentage of absentees on the last Eid al-Fitr, which fell on April 21, 2023.
And in an exact copy of an e-mail obtained by “Media Part”, we can read what it means, “Ladies and gentlemen, at the request of the intelligence service, and in order to give a report on the feast day corresponding to Friday, April 21, 2023, we hope that you will provide us with the percentage of absence on that day, and we urge you Please respond to this request as soon as possible.”
In a statement to the site, Yvonne Manac, academic secretary of the most important union of heads of educational institutions in the Haute-Garonne region near Toulouse, denounced what happened, saying, “This is the first time, as far as I know, that we receive such a request that appears to have come from the Ministry of the Interior, and that police officers They took the initiative to send him without notifying the Directorate.”
In turn, the Associate Secretary General of the Unified Trade Union Union, Marie Cecil, explained in an interview with Media Part that she had been questioned since then who sent this message, noting that “the policewoman admitted that she did not apply to the university administration before transferring this request … and it was the regional intelligence that submitted it.” And there was a certain pressure on their part.”
In the Herault region, the site says that educational institutions received a similar request, but this time the message was directed directly by the Department of National Education, requesting a report on the absenteeism rate on the day of Eid, but also throughout Ramadan.
Mediapart says the Department of Education retracted it less than 24 hours after the submission, saying, “Please ignore the email received on May 11 at 8:35 am.” […] With all our apologies.”
The site added that other schools have received similar messages, one of which says, “We confirm that there is no direct request from the police or any other service other than the Education Department requesting the transfer of such data… Therefore, we invite you not to respond to this request.”
But Media Part quoted Arno Russell (a member of an education union) protesting what happened, saying, “I wonder what they want to do with such statements? It is very outrageous that the supposed religious practices of students be investigated.”
He commented on what happened by saying that there is nothing to prevent students from being absent on the day of Eid, as long as they informed the institution in advance, indicating that the Education Law is clear on this issue, which is that students have the right to obtain permission to be absent if it is related to a major religious holiday, as is the case with Eid. Fitr for Muslims.
In response to a question from Media Part, the office of the Minister of Education, Bab Indaye, insisted that what happened was not an initiative of the Ministry of National Education, and blamed the Minister of Interior.
And while the relative interest in knowing the rate of absenteeism is somewhat justified, this particular request is infuriating, as it clearly indicates the existence of a form of religious targeting of specific citizens, and Islam is always the target. Education unions, explaining that “the Minister of the Interior is also the Minister of Religion, and he is the first person who should respect secularism.”
Another trade unionist highlights that this request from the intelligence services links the practice of religion and internal security. The target is the Muslim community, and this is a real attack on secularism.. “It is simply, shocking targeting.”
Media Part quoted Jean-François Menyar, head of the League for Human Rights in Toulouse, as saying that he was considering taking legal action, indicating that the Muslim community is already being targeted again, explaining that such things are not required of Christians or Jews, for example, which It means that “what happened was discriminatory targeting”.