In a recent open letter in Libération, prominent public figures reacted to the dismissal of Rokhaya Diallo from the National Digital Council (Conseil national du numérique, or CNNum). Notable signatories included Mediapart founder Edwy Plenel, former Collective Against Islamophobia in France director Marwan Muhammad, Danièle Obono and Céline Sciamma. Plenel reacted to the decision on Twitter, decrying the “witch hunt” that threatened freedom of expression.
The letter insisted on the importance of ensuring and encouraging democratic debate, as well as protecting freedom of thought.
The letter points to the influence of “extreme right” groups, as well Printemps Républicain, a political movement known for defending laïcité, and the “reactionary fringes of our elites” on pushing for Diallo’s expulsion.
“We cannot accept that the government cedes to these pressures. The need for equanimity that was invoked to explain the expulsion of Madame Diallou from the National Digital Council is a new example of the chaos that currently reigns surrounding the notion of freedom of thought. If the debate is to be respectful and calm, it remains nevertheless essential that it is accompanied by a freedom to critique institutions. Freedom of thought is at the heart of Republican values. The pursuit of equanimity in the name of national unity resembles what could be mistaken for censorship.”