Photo credit: Geoffroy van der Hasselt, AFP
Following the murder of a middle school history teacher in Paris by a radical Islamist in October 2020, political and cultural polarization in France continues to escalate. The concept of “Islamo-leftism” is at the center of the ongoing cultural debate. The term was coined by the French far-right as a neologism applied to the alleged political alliance between leftists and Islamists against the Western culture and values, and has gained popularity among not only conservatives but also an influential segment of French intellectuals and politicians, including the French minister of higher education and research, Frédérique Vidal.
In February this year, in an interview with CNews, the French equivalent of Fox News, Vidal commented on the heated cultural debate surrounding this heavily contested concept. “Islamo-leftism is plaguing the entire society,” she declared. She criticized “radical” academics for always “looking at everything through the prism of their will to divide” and announced her intention to investigate research on subjects considered to be related to “Islamo-leftism” in the universities in order to “distinguish proper academic research from activism and opinion.”
In recent years, an active reactionary movement has emerged in France, targeting research in a long list of fields, from ethnicity, race, gender, and intersectionality to colonialism, decoloniality and Islamophobia. This movement and its influence on government members signals a huge threat against human rights and academic freedom of those specialized in these fields, especially minority scholars.
In response to Vidal’s statement, more than 400 academics across the world have signed a petition in solidarity with academics and activists in France. We at the Endangered Scholars Worldwide join these academics in solidarity with French scholars and in unconditional defense of academic freedom and human rights.
Please join us in signing the petition.