Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) issued the following statement on 17 October after the beheading of a teacher outside his school in Paris. Re-produced as a leaflet, it has been well received on demonstrations around France, as was the GR poster slogan: “Against racism, against fundamentalism. For a fraternal and tolerant society. For socialism!”
The brutal assassination of a history teacher at a school in the Parisian region fills us with great sadness and disgust. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones, colleagues, and students at his school.
Whatever we may think of caricatures of religious figures, it is important that freedom of discussion, criticism, and expression remain at the heart of teaching and of life in society. A cartoon can never warrant assassination. However, unfortunately, there are many who stir up hatred and intolerance, whether in government, in the media, or on social networks.
On the one hand, the teacher who was assassinated was the victim of a religious fundamentalist who has done damage to his own religion. “By taking himself for the God he claims to be (as if an ‘all-powerful’ god could be afraid of a mere cartoon)”, as JL Mélenchon, leader of the left movement, ‘France Unbowed’, put it. On the other hand, he is a victim of the increase in intolerance and the hatred and contempt being shown against Muslims recently by MPs of the ruling party and others.
This deterioration of the climate, this intolerance, is combined with a stifling situation in society since the Covid 19 pandemic, and the arbitrary measures of isolation and repression against those who oppose President Macron’s policies.
This also translates into an obnoxious atmosphere on social networks where various calls for hatred on different subjects always end up being seen by an unbalanced person who may be ready to engage in the most horrific acts.
“It is the Republic that is under attack,” says education minister, Blanquer. This is such hypocrisy on the part of a minister who continues to support the dismissal of four teachers for helping students in an unfair Bac exam test, or whose ministry ignored for months the cries for help from Christine Renon, head of one Pantin (93) school who ended up committing suicide.
No! This was a teacher who was attacked – one of those whom Blanquer is forever disparaging. The great ‘Republic’ of Blanquer’s is bereft of justice, tolerance, and equality.
It is possible to make mistakes, to exaggerate, and there should be the possibility to discuss certain subjects with parents, or among students. Freedom of speech should not be infringed and the door should always be open to dialogue and explanation.
What hypocrisy on the part of people who claim to defend freedom of expression but take offence at the fact that a student wears a headscarf at a hearing in the assembly when she has the right to do so.
How hypocritical that this government, which, according to President Macron, wants schools to serve in creating “free citizens ” but is destroying conditions in the schools – cramming students into over-crowded classes and forbidding them to challenge the selection method that excludes thousands of young people from access to higher education.
This government is now trying to sympathise with the education workforce that it spends its time deriding and underpaying.
Enough of racism and intolerance!
“They will not pass!” says Macron, explicitly taking up the slogan of the anti-fascists during the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939 – the same Spanish anti-fascist camp, abandoned by France and Britain, that faced Franco’s fascist hordes.
The leader of National Rally, Marine Le Pen, only had this to add: “We must drive him out of our country by force!”. Undoubtedly, this horrible event will be used as a new justification for the so-called law against “separatism”, which will reinforce discriminatory measures against Muslims, in general.
As always, terrorists play into the hands of the ruling class and this will backfire against the vast majority of Muslims.
We have had enough of these people, in government and in the media, throwing fuel on the fire by constantly attacking Muslims and then exploiting the pain of victims by making Islamophobic remarks.
We have had enough of this government that despises students and education personnel and then uses their sorrow as an opportunity to pretend that everything will be done to protect them when everything is being done to destroy working and studying conditions.
We are fighting for teachers to have a maximum of 20 students per class – enough to be able to conduct classes and debates and discussions with the students. But this will require a break with Macron’s politics.
Enough of this climate of hatred, racism, and intolerance! Against racism, against fundamentalism, and for a fraternal and tolerant society!
The real separatism is that which condemns millions of people to poverty, to low wages, while the billionaires and capitalists get richer and richer.
It is the basis of intolerance and racism, amongst ever-growing inequalities, while public services are constantly being run down by the policies of Macron and others.
We have to fight for a different society – one where the economy will be publicly owned and where public services (health, education, and so on) will be managed by the workers in these sectors, democratically, in conjunction with the wider population. It is by fighting for such a democratic society – socialism – that we will eradicate intolerance and racism, which too often today are used to divide workers, young people, and the majority of the population against each other instead of fighting our real common adversary: the ultra-rich and the governments which are at their service.