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Mila affair: Her schoolfriends speak out

The French teenager Mila's former class mates have spoken out: "She could never have returned to high school, she would have been killed, there are 70 percent Muslims here, it could not have gone well."

Published: February 12, 2020, 8:21 am

    Everyone agreed however that Mila “has gone too far” in speaking out against Islam and that “it is not done” to insult a religion as she did. “I don’t understand, she was hanging out with Muslims, blacks, Arabs, she was not racist,” said a second-grader.

    “Me, I’m neutral,” another told French political magazine Le Point. Quite clearly, being “neutral” is already expressing fear about taking sides in the debate about religion. Most of the students at the Léonard-de-Vinci high school in Villefontaine (Isère), where Mila was schooled, do not understand why she made such critical comments about Islam.

    According to the Ministry of Education, a school has been found for her. The news did not surprise her former comrades, eager to turn the page on this event.

    “She got what she was looking for, she should have expected it,” a class mate explained. “There are 70 percent Muslims here, it couldn’t have gone well.”

    A Muslim girl said: “The worst part is that the people who threaten her end up in a way by giving her reason.”

    “There are those who were shocked, hurt by what she said. Those who are afraid of being associated with her, and of paying the costs. And some who think the same [as Mila] but will never admit it,” another student commented when asked by French daily Le Parisien. The student said Mila should not count on them for support. “For support, now she has #JeSuis Mila. Let her not count on us.”

    Support for the teenage girl has indeed been lacking. While some worry about her future, most condemned her media release. “She could never have returned. But even in another establishment she now has a label. What is sad is that she will always be identified with this story. She wanted to become a singer, and do The Voice,” said one.

    “Why did she say all this? It seems obvious to me that we shouldn’t say things like that,” a student in first grade noted. “No one told her to insult anyone. She has received threats, of course. If she can’t come back anymore, too bad for her,” is the uncompromising response of a second-grader. “If she had returned, she would have been killed,” said another.

    In an interview released by regional French daily Dauphiné, the head of state defended freedom of expression and recalled that the girl was a teenager.

    After the vast controversy following the words of the young Mila, the President of the Republic, who had remained rather silent, unlike some of his ministers, Emmanuel Macron finally commented on Wednesday, February 12.

    The words of the young Mila had triggered a wave of hatred on social networks, until the schoolgirl was threatened with death and was forced to drop out of her school in Isère.

    “The law is clear: we have the right to blasphemy, to criticize, to caricature religions. What is prohibited is the call to hatred, the attack on dignity. I will not give in on this. The republican order is not the moral order,” Macron told the local newspaper.

    The Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer found a school for Mila on February 6, but the girl is still hotly criticized. “In this debate, we lost sight of the fact that Mila is a teenager […] We therefore owe her protection at school, in her daily life, in her travels. The state has taken responsibility,” Macron added.

    Shortly after the facts, the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, distinguished herself by indicating that the girl’s remarks were an “insult to religion” and an “attack on freedom of conscience” before walking back her remarks.

    At the end of January on the sidelines of a trip to Angoulême for the comic book festival, Macron alluded to the “freedom to blaspheme” and the protection of freedom of expression. “That is a treasure,” he said at the time, although he did not directly address the Mila affair.

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