The origins of the Marianne fund, the wanderings of a State “counter-discourse” unit

The origins of the Marianne fund, the wanderings of a State “counter-discourse” unit

2023-06-03 06:14:16

Created in April 2021 by Marlène Schiappa, then Minister Delegate for Citizenship, to fight against separatism, the Marianne fund caused a stir. This financial windfall of 2.5 million euros, intended to finance associative actions to prevent radicalization, is the subject of a judicial investigation opened by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office for suspicions of embezzlement of public funds, as well as an administrative inquiry and a senatorial commission of inquiry. The aggressiveness shown by certain associations financed by this fund to castigate people accused of being “accomplices of Islamism” also caused a scandal.

Another organization, created during the same period and pursuing similar goals, has so far remained unknown: the very discreet Republican Counter-Discourse Unit (UCDR), also led by the prefect Christian Gravel, secretary general of the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalization (CIPDR). Yet it raises equally important questions about the limits of state “counter-propaganda” in the face of radicalization. Since its creation at the end of 2020, also in the wake of the terrorist assassination of Professor Samuel Paty, nothing or almost nothing has filtered through the work accomplished by this team responsible, on behalf of the government, for “respond to extremist, separatist or conspiratorial actors” and of “promoting republican values” on social networks.

The world investigated the operation and the opaqueness of the UCDR, its collusion with secular movements close to the Republican Spring, its recruits without expertise in jihadism, its practice of targeted response and ad personam attacks. Sign of a deleterious climate, the vast majority of the dozen interlocutors questioned – current and former members of the team, or familiar with these structures – only agreed to answer in exchange for the promise of respect for anonymity, so fearful were they of the consequences of openly criticizing this state counter-propaganda agency.

Denounce the “accomplices of Islamism”?

A week after the assassination of Samuel Paty, Marlène Schiappa announcement, October 23, 2020the creation of’“a republican counter-speech unit on social networks (…) so as not to leave space to those who indoctrinate”. An initiative which recalls Stop jihadisma service launched in 2015 under the aegis of the Government Information Service, then headed by Christian Gravel, close to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who appointed him prefect the same year. Mr. Gravel – who preferred to answer our questions through his communications team – is the holder of a hard line in terms of secularism and the response to radical Islam, a line that espouses that of other faithful. of the Socialist Prime Minister, many of whom can be found within the pro-secular movement of the Printemps Républicain, created the same year.

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