Lecturer becomes symbol of France's battle against wokeism

Lecturer becomes symbol of France’s battle against wokeism as he is suspended by university because he said it had surrendered to ‘Islamo-leftist’ students and academics

  • Klaus Kinzler suspended for four months by Sciences Po Grenoble over remarks
  • He accused the university of surrendering to ‘Islamo-leftist’ students academics
  • Row started after Kinzler blocked a conference on racism as ‘politically charged’
  • Left-wing students’ union mounted targeted campaign, accusing him of fascism 

A lecturer has become a symbol of France’s battle against wokeism after he was suspended by his university because he said it had surrendered to ‘Islamo-leftist’ students academics.  

Klaus Kinzler was suspended for four months by Sciences Po Grenoble after the institute ruled his remarks were defamatory. 

He accused the university of ‘explicitly encouraging students to insult, abuse and defame teachers who have the audacity not to share their extremist opinions’.

The row erupted in March after Kinzler blocked a one-day conference on ‘Racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia’ claiming it was a politically charged subject rather than academic.  

In response a left-wing students’ union accused him and a fellow professor of ‘fascism’ and Islamophobia in a targeted campaign on social media and signs around the Grenoble campus.  

Lecturer Klaus Kinzler has become a symbol of France’s battle against wokeism after he was suspended by his university because he said it had surrendered to ‘Islamo-leftist’ students academics

In the wake of the case, President Macron’s government condemned ‘Islamo-leftism’ – known as Islamo-gauchisme in French – which points to the alleged political alliance between leftists and Islamists, the Times reported. 

François Jolivet, a member of Macron’s En Marche! party, has called for the university to put under state supervision and for parliament to launch a probe into the ‘situation’ in institutions across France. 

In a scathing response, Jolivet said Sciences Po, one of several institutes of political studies (IEPs) in France, had ‘fallen prey to sectarianism’.   

The row has also angered right-wing politicians, with the President of the Rhone Alps region and former leader of the conservative Republicans party Laurent Wauquiez withdrawing a €100,000 public subsidy from the university. 

Explaining the decision, he said: ‘A minority has confiscated the debate in the Grenoble university, imposing somethings through terror, radical points of view that are contrary to the values of our republic.’ 

Kinzler was suspended for four months by Sciences Po Grenoble after the institute ruled his claim the university was ‘explicitly encouraging students to insult, abuse and defame teachers who have the audacity not to share their extremist opinions’ was defamatory

But academics have pushed back, with 40 writing an open letter to the Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal warning ‘the freedom of expression of academics, as well as their academic freedom within the framework of their teaching and their research, freedoms of which you are the first guarantor, are in danger in our country.’

Academics have also claimed ‘Islamo-leftism’ and wokeism as concepts invented by right-wingers to constrict intellectual freedom and belittle universities.       

Kinzler was suspended last week after he said Sciences Po had failed to defend him from a ‘reign of terror’ after the institute only disciplined one of 17 student leaders identified as responsible for attacks on him. 

He claimed the university, which he described as ‘political re-education’ institute, had not protected him for a targeted campaign by students and young faculty members obsessed with ‘decolonialism, identity politics and anti-capitalism’. 

Kinzler admitted the group were in the minority but voiced anger at the decision to punish only one student, by giving them a suspended exclusion order. 

Sciences Po Grenoble director Sabine Saurugger defended her handling of the case after the suspension was reported in the media and criticised the students involved – but said disciplinary procedures were out of her remit.  

‘I am stunned to discover the image of the IEP in the media. It is not the establishment that respects secularism, the strictest freedom of expression and academic freedom,’ Saurugger said. 

The issue, part of a wider debate in French society, has played into next April’s presidential election set to be contested by current President Emmanuel Macron and a host of challengers including far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. 

The issue, part of a wider debate in French society, has played into next April’s presidential election set to be contested by current President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) and a host of challengers including far-right candidate Marine Le Pen 

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