In the first part of this “observatory of teachers faced with the expression of religion in schools” (IFOP survey for WATCH SCREEN, published on 9 December), 45% of teachers admitted to censoring themselves in their lessons in order to avoid possible incidents provoked by certain pupils. In this second survey, one teacher in five said that he or she had been the victim, at least once in his or her career, of a religious or identity-based attack. This undoubtedly explains this!
Religiously motivated provocations and aggressions against teachers have long been part of the taboos maintained by the culture of ‘‘no-vagrancy’’ in vogue in the French national education system. The national uproar caused by the beheading of Samuel Paty by an Islamic fanatic in October 2020 broke the omerta. For the past two years, tongues have been wagging and alarming testimonies have multiplied (see our report ”Teachers, the last black hussars of the Republic”). However, the figures revealed in this second part of our “Observatory of teachers faced with the expression of religion fact in schools” (an exclusive IFOP survey for Screen Watch) are beyond all comprehension: 21% (i.e. 1 in 5 teachers) say that they have been the victim, at least once during their career, of aggression with a religious or identity-based motivation from pupils or parents! Worse still, this figure, which is chilling, reaches 39% in priority education zones.
What exactly are they?
16% of these assaults are “face-to-face insults linked to tensions of a religious or identity-related nature”; 14% are “threats of face-to-face assaults “linked to the same type of tensions”; 12% are “physical assaults” with the same motivations. Secondly, pressure and aggression go beyond the school walls and extend to the web: 12% and 11% of threats of aggression made via the internet and social networks.
Another revelation of this survey is that the awareness raised by the murder of Samuel Paty has not contributed, as one might have hoped, to reducing religious or identity-based provocations that undermine secularism. Thus, of the 69% of teachers who have noted incidents that undermine the principle of the city at school, more than half (44%) have done so during the last two school years.
The incidents in question include a wide range of provocations with religious or identity-based motives, which – in the overwhelming majority of cases – fall under the heading of Islamist entryism: 47% of “wearing of signs or clothing by which pupils ostensibly manifest a religious affiliation”; 45% of “challenges to teaching or teaching content in the name of religious, philosophical or political convictions”; 44% of “refusal of school activities in the name of religious, philosophical or political convictions”; 42% of “community claims linked to respect for certain religious precepts”; 31% of “cases of suspected proselytism”. To this can be added – and this is even more mind-boggling – 18% of incidents concerning “teaching by teachers who do not comply with the principle of secularism”!
Among the 69% of teachers who had encountered incidents with a religious or identity-based motivation, one teacher in three (33%) stated that they did not feel supported by their superiors when they reported these breaches of secularism.
This lack of support seems to influence the future behaviour of teachers in the face of this type of incident: only 52% of teachers said that, in the future, if they noticed pupils “wearing religious headgear such as a veil or kippah”, they would ask the pupil to remove it and report the incident to the administration. On the other hand, 28% would prefer to ask the student to remove it, without reporting the incident to the administration.
The same is true for cases of “wearing conspicuous religious symbols by students on school outings”: 48% would ask the student to remove it and report the incident to the administration; 29% would simply ask the student to remove it without reporting the incident.
As for the most frequently observed incidents, which concern the “wearing by pupils of large traditional garments such as an abaya or a qamis”, only 41% of teachers say that they would ask pupils to remove them while reporting the incident, while 22% would simply ask pupils to remove them, without reporting it.
However, this observation, which is due to the growing mistrust of teachers towards their superiors, does not reflect a renunciation of the principle of secularism on the part of the last of the “hussars” of the Republic, namely teachers: At a time when the law of 4 March 2004 on the prohibition of conspicuous religious symbols in schools is entering its twentieth school year since its implementation, 80% of teachers refute the theses in vogue among the thousands of Islamo-leftists, according to which this law is ‘Islamophobic’ or hostile to Islam and Muslims.
Woke and communitarian ideas, which advocate a relaxation of the principle of secularism in schools, remain very marginal among the teaching staff, although they are more popular with young teachers under 30.
For example, 60% of teachers were against the principle of “freedom of dress”, according to which pupils should be able to go to class “in whatever clothes they like”. 88% are opposed to the fact that teachers can wear conspicuous religious symbols (veil, kippa, etc.) and 86% refuse to allow pupils to wear the same type of headgear. While 80% refuse that pupils may wear large traditional clothes, such as the “abaya” or “qamis”. 74% refuse that accompanying parents or external contributors be authorised to wear conspicuous religious signs (veil, kippah…) when they are teaching. And 60% are opposed to the idea that school canteens should be able to offer pupils who so wish meals of a religious nature (e.g. halal meat, kosher meat, etc.).