Letter by letter, the inscription is displayed on the large white sheet that will be, a few minutes later, hung on the pediment of the establishment, just below the letters indicating "Lycée Victor-Hugo": "Racist principal. Complicit rectorate. In a long investigation by Mediapart, published just a week ago, students of this high school in downtown Marseille, near the Saint-Charles station, say they are victims of a "relentlessness" of the management. The cause? Their outfits that earned them summonses, in the name of the application of the latest ministerial instructions on conspicuous religious symbols.

"I don't want you to stay at home with ten kids huh, making couscous, tagine or samosas." In front of the Lycée Victor-Hugo, this Thursday morning, the phrase is broadcast at full volume in a speaker connected for the occasion. Remarks made by the principal of the school, in front of these students summoned for wearing clothes deemed inappropriate. As Mediapart reports, one of them is dressed in abaya, a long black dress considered by the National Education as an outfit likely to ostensibly manifest a religious affiliation, and therefore prohibited. In this recording that 20 Minutes also obtained, the prosecutor tells the story of a previous student "who put on the outfits like that, who did worse than hang in the city and who had thongs underneath".

"Degrading" remarks

"The words spoken are not admissible within our institution," said a professor interviewed by 20 Minutes on condition of anonymity. They have had an impact on the lives of some students who are already seeing this repeated in different places in their lives. And what I would like is for these words to stop. Concretely, there is a difficult return of some students to class after the interviews. Racial, religious or gender discrimination hurts, damages and weakens. If we want the school to be the sanctuary it claims to be, we must be much more alert on these subjects. These comments by our principal seem to me to be incompatible with the performance of his duties because they are degrading to students. »

These remarks, made at the beginning of the year by this newly appointed principal in the institution, were reported to the rectorate. "We alerted them in every possible way and really they despised us," says Emmanuel Roux, secretary general of the local union CGT Marseille centre-ville and supervisor at the Lycée Victor-Hugo. We went six months without an answer. On the other hand, several striking staff members have been suspended, according to this union representative. "I was suspended a few days after marching with a banner: Swing your principal," says one of them, until now supervisor at the Lycée Victor-Hugo. "There is a real climate of omerta," regrets Emmanuel Roux.

Support from the Rectorate

Asked by Mediapart, the rectorate expressed "its full and complete support for the management team which is subject to pressure, totally unjustified accusations". A reaction that does not understand the mobilized staff. "In an establishment with a social position index that ranks our student 866th out of 866 general and technological high schools in France, to the fragile public, we create, day after day, a climate of trust, work and support with our students, write teachers in a press release. How can we build this trust with our students and their families when such degrading remarks contrary to the values of the Republic are made by the highest authority of the school and endorsed by the rectorate? »

"We are asking for an institutional response to the comments that have been made," said Maria, another educational assistant who has been on strike since 16 January. Contacted by phone by 20 Minutes, the rectorate did not respond to our requests at the time of writing.

  • Society
  • Mediapart
  • Racism
  • High school
  • Marseille
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
  • PACA