French Education Minister Gabriel Attal leaves the Elysee Palace after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, 18 October 2023. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON


French education minister wants radicalised pupils removed from schools


Following the murderous terrorist knife attack at a school Arras, Northern France, by a radicalised former pupil of Chechen origin, National Education Minister Gabriel Attal wants to be able to remove pupils suspected of having been radicalised from educational establishments.

The minister said on October 19 that he, together with the ministries of justice and of internal affairs, are “working on measures” to get such pupils out of schools. The Arras attack on October 13 by the 20-year-old ex-pupil left one teacher dead and several people wounded.

When teaching staff “report students who they think are potentially a threat … because of the words they have (said) or the actions they have taken, the principle of protection I want to apply to all our students and staff means that we have to find a solution other than sending them to school,” Attal said on French radio station France Info.

“We need to think about specialised structures that can accommodate them,” he said, adding: “I will take all the precautions of exclusion” that are necessary.

Attal said he “deeply believes in the role of education in reducing radicalisation”. He added that “in certain situations, the level of recruitment within the family, and sometimes of the associations that draw around it, is such that we are not fighting on an equal footing”.

He concluded that schools must continue to be a “sanctuary”.

“We must always be safer inside the school than outside.”

Nonetheless, the minister reaffirmed his commitment to educational content as the most crucial tool in combating radicalisation.

Earlier on October 19, interior minister Gérald Darmanin had spoken on BFMTV of “more than 1,000 minors with active files for Islamism”.

Attal said: “There are about a thousand minors being watched” but added that some are being monitored because a member of their family is under surveillance.

“We are in the process of assessing” the number of potentially radicalised minors, he added, estimating this number at “several dozen probably”.

The perpetrator of the Arras attack, Mohammed Mogushkov, was in France illegally.