Fettering free thought

Fettering free thought

Fettering free thought


"Islamo-Leftism" is the new buzz word now. It is being variously used to describe liberal ideas in several countries where people opposing the...

"Islamo-Leftism" is the new buzz word now. It is being variously used to describe liberal ideas in several countries where people opposing the government moves and policies that segregate people on the basis of religious practices.

Frederique Vidal, France's Minister of Education, recently denounced "Islamo-gauchisme" (Islamo-Leftism) and its "gangrene-effect" on France and called for an inquiry into France's national research organization, the CNRS, and the university.

Several knowledge producers of great standing, scholars, activists and other intellectuals have been targeted by the Minister for questioning the racism and colonialism persisting in the country.

The decolonial, anti-racist and anti-Islamophobia projects within the academy and on the streets were the subject of her criticism. The State perhaps feels challenged by the thoughts and hence an attempt is being made to suppress them.

This is, of course, common nowadays to several countries. Powers that be are unable to take criticism. No ruler is in a position to accept a critic of his actions. It could be safely assumed that the primary job of the governments across seems to be thought policing.

The State's intentions are found in the language it uses. The relatively new term "Islamo-gauchisme" reflects a much older convergence of right-wing, colonial and racist ideologies working in opposition to anti-colonial, anti-Islamophobia and anti-racism struggles.

Like India, France also feels that the "Islamo-gauchisme" is an import from the US and hence, a pervert thought. What she fails to comprehend is that this is not a thought. This is in fact, an anti-thought, opposing a wrong thought and at best a question. But questions do make the rulers uncomfortable. Hence, all kinds of restrictions on even social platforms.

A movement is now picking up in France to oppose such colonial and racist ideas. The decolonial theory - Abya Yala - of Latin America or the postcolonial theory in India heavily drew from the works of French-speaking scholars of colour such as Frantz Fanon, Alme Cesaire and others as these progressive forces cite.

As a statement issued by the anti-colonial and anti-racist scholars points out the attack on progressive and radical scholars and activists seeks to preserve "French exceptionalism".

Inconvenient truths and the ground realities tend to get scrubbed up by those in power in their bid to "cleanse the country's image". Also, such efforts not only get denounced in the country of its origin but also outside.

Free minds breathing in limited spaces tend to get united strongly across the world. Then comes another allegation of foreign conspiracy. Conspiracy is what the government does and not what the intellectuals say.

Coming to France, the colonial mentality is manifest in France's structures of governance, especially with regard to both citizens and immigrants of colour, as reflected in a barrage of laws such as: the law against wearing the veil; immigration laws; the Islamophobic law against "separatism" which has already shut down the CCIF (Collective against Islamophobia in France) and threatens all forms of autonomy; the law prohibiting filming of police brutality; the (now-repealed) law that mandated that colonialism be taught in only one State-sanctioned manner; rights-abusive and discriminatory counterterrorism laws; and others.

These measures seek to forcibly "integrate" suspect populations into permanently subordinate roles in French society. This is not new to the world, Brazil, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, the US, India and China...each one of them does practice it. Only the degree varies.

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