Frédérique Vidal “would like us to raise the debate”

The Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal said in an interview with the JDD that she hoped “that the debate be raised” while she finds herself entangled in a controversy after having requested an investigation into “Islamo-leftism” at the ‘university.

“We need an inventory of what is being done in research in France on these subjects,” said Ms. Vidal, ensuring that she wanted an investigation “in the sociological sense of the term”.

The minister found herself caught up in a controversy after denouncing on February 14 “Islamo-leftism” which, according to her, “plagues society as a whole and the university is not impermeable”, before asking on Tuesday at the CNRS “a review of all the research” taking place in France, in order to distinguish between what is academic research and what is activism.

These statements sparked strong reactions in the academic world, to the point that 600 academics (teachers, researchers …) demanded on Saturday, in a column published by the newspaper Le Monde, his resignation, accusing him of “raising the threat. intellectual repression “.

Rejecting wanting to set up a “thought police”, Ms. Vidal sees it as a “trial of intent”, assuring on the contrary that she wants to “deconstruct the idea that there would be a single thought on certain subjects and (… ) to protect the pluralism of ideas at the university “.

“I am an academic. I have always defended academic freedom and researchers,” she says.

“If the academics who do not know me may have felt offended, that was not my intention. Everyone must be able to express themselves, it is also in the disagreement that we advance,” said the minister.

The CNRS had agreed on Tuesday to participate in the study requested by the minister on “Islamo-leftism”, however regretting “an emblematic controversy of an instrumentalisation of science” and a “political slogan [qui] did not correspond to any scientific reality “.

“I want a rational and scientific approach to the subject. We have to quantify things, get out of the feeling and the presupposition,” she says.

“Academic freedoms and the freedom of research must be defended at all costs. What I want is to know if these freedoms are not hindered in the work of researchers and teacher-researchers,” said the minister.

Frédérique Vidal notes that “this subject arouses a lot of reactions, but it is not our priority today”. “The priority is the situation of the students and the pandemic”.

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