“We didn’t let anything go”. For Michel Lalande, the prefect of the North, the minute of silence in tribute to Samuel Paty, the teacher assassinated in the Paris region on October 16, was the opportunity to affirm the intransigence of the State in respect of values of the Republic. 78 reports were made in the various establishments of the department. All the students concerned “were summoned by the police”, assures Michel Lalande. “There were police custody and even legal proceedings”, continues the prefect. Two adolescents from Cambrésis were thus indicted for “apologia for terrorism”.
The state did not wait for the latest attacks including those in Nice to act on the subject of “separatism”. Since 2014, the North Prefecture “developed practices to stem the rise of radical Islamism which fueled separatism”, explains Michel Lalande, who arrived in the department in 2016. A departmental study group that brings together people specialized in radicalization issues is responsible for detecting “more or less weak signals” in some people “who are not necessarily guilty of terrorism”. CEPRAF (Radicalization Prevention and Family Support Unit) is responsible for more specific cases.
An important place for the school
But it is on the school that the prefect of the North wants to insist. In fighting in particular against “school avoidance”, with children whom the prefect considers “the invisible ones of the school system”. By crossing the files of children enrolled in school and those enrolled in the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales, “there are about twenty cases (of families), where justice has been seized”, details Michel Lalande. Children often schooled in “de facto” schools, associations providing lessons “contrary to the values of the Republic”. He cites the case of the association “Main dans le Main”, which has since opened a private school, recently controlled and or “no transgression was noted”. The prefect who also wants to concentrate his efforts on the associative organizations which are “outside school time” and which have messages “totally transgressive in relation to the values of the Republic”. The prefect then quotes girls who refuse to make music or challenges to relativity in science class. Some of these organizations have been “controlled and closed” assures the prefect, and for a year a charter of the values of the Republic must be signed by all the associations: “Nothing is subsidized that is contrary to the values of the Republic”, according to Michel Lalande.
Several mosques under surveillance
On the question of places of worship, some prefects including that of the North have received instructions from the Ministry of the Interior to monitor 76 mosques, including 18 who will be affected by immediate actions up to closure according to the government. The prefect of the North refuses to give the figure of those concerned in the department. “I can only say that they interest us in several ways”, explains Michel Lalande recalling that since his arrival in 2016 two mosques have been closed, in Grande Synthe and in Hautmont.