By: V4 Agency
Held to account and accused of racism by his students, the teacher says he is leaving the town where he has worked for twenty years as he no longer feels safe there.
A philosophy professor in Trappes, Yvelines departement, has been under police protection since last November, after receiving death threats for urging people to resist the threat of Islamism in France.
In 2018, professor Didier Lemaire wrote to the president of the French Republic and urged him to take steps in order to reduce the growing Islamist influence on the country’s youth. In October 2020, following the gruesome beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist terrorist, he condenmed the French government’s “feeble efforts” to drive back the spreading influence of Islamism in an open letter.
According to his own account, Didier Lemaire featured in a Dutch documentary where he described in great detail how French suburbs have become increasingly isolated in the past two decades because of religious communities. In the short film Lemaire calls the town of Trappes “very dangerous”; a breeding ground for many home-grown jihadis.
After the local synagogue burned down in 2000, the Jewish families have gradually disappeared to be replaced by a growing number of Muslim and atheistic families. According to a piece published by the weekly Valeurs actuelles, the socialists took over the city’s leadership from the communists in the next few years and pledged to build a new mosque. Despite several state-funded investment projects to promote the peaceful and tranquil co-existence of these communities, the plan fell short of expectations. Riots became more common and, in one instance, locals even pelted the town’s police station with stones. The article published by Valeurs actuelles cites some figures, pointing out that in 2010, 26 per cent of the town’s 30,000 residents were immigrants, while in 2005, at least one parent of every under-18 kid was an immigrant. People from around 50 ethnic groups live together in the city and the common denominator between the communities is religion. 70 per cent say they belong to the Muslim faith.
In this situation, Didier Lemaire felt he must stand up for the town’s young people and protect them from the growing threat of Islamist influence, but many misunderstood his words. On one occasion, he said, he was met by an entire class at the school’s gates, who asked him why he had turned against them.
Didier Lemaire’s words weren’t simply misread by his students as many of his colleagues also believe that he is a racist who stigmatises certain groups in society. In an interview, the Mr Lemaire stressed that what he did was not against young people. To the contrary, it was for them, he said. However, his words fell on deaf ears and instead of receiving support, he became the target of attacks. Commenters on social media rapidly turned against him, sending him multiple death threats.
Following the threats, the philosophy teacher was placed under police protection in November. He says every time he leaves his home, he must make sure that every door is locked and that he is not being followed. He says he is not afraid, but he is forced to “cave in” because he no longer feels safe in the town where he has been a teacher for twenty years. He says he wants to quit his profession and move somewhere else. He also points out that only a small group of Muslim students show moderation when it comes to practicing their religion, but they are under powerful pressure from Salafists, even within the walls of the school. According to Didier Lemaire, atheist North African and moderate Muslim residents are leaving the city while teachers fearful of Islamists turn a blind eye and stay silent, even in the face of threats. Authorities must take urgent and determined action to protect schools and education, Didier Lemaire stressed.