The French minister for higher education has been criticized for warning about the spread of “Islamo-leftism” in France’s universities, raising concerns about the approach the government is taking in its fight against extremism.
Speaking to France’s free-to-air channel C-News, Frederique Vidal used the term, which has become popular among right-wing figures, in a discussion about the problem of radical Islam in the country, and President Emmanuel Macron’s mission to combat extremism.
“What we observe in universities is that there are people who can use their titles and the aura they have… to carry radical ideas or to carry militant ideas,” Vidal warned.
I think that Islamo-leftism is eating away at our society as a whole, and universities are not immune and are part of our society.
The Conference of University Presidents (CPU), released a statement in response to Vidal’s remarks, condemning the term as an ill-defined label that has been “popularized” by right-wing individuals who wish to promote an anti-immigrant agenda.
‘Islamo-leftism’ is not a concept,” the group said, calling it “a pseudo-notion” that defies “scientific definition” and which should simply not be used.
Vidal’s comments came as Macron continues to push to reduce the threat of what he calls “Islamic separatism” from extremists in France after a number of terrorist attacks in recent years.
The term “Islamo-leftism” was also used by Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer in October 2020, where he accused it of “wreaking havoc” on the academic sector. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin took a similar stance to Vidal and Blanquer last week during a debate with the National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, where he accused the anti-immigration politician of being “soft” on Islam.
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