‘Radicalization test’ ridicule: Anti-terrorism proposal by French official sparks Twitter barrage

© AFP
A high school ‘radicalization detection test’ is the latest proposal to fight terrorism from one French official – with the suggestion causing outrage online, but also spawning a large amount of ridicule.

Geoffroy Didier, vice president of the council of the Paris region and member of the Republican party, first announced the suggestion on France 1, before using his Facebook page to expand on the idea. 

“I offer to detect radicalization of young people as early as possible to stop this process, and to be able to protect the teenager, the family and society. In particular, I suggest creating a ‘radicalization test’ for any youth enrolled in a college or high school whose behavior has been identified as a concern by the educational community.”

The test would be in the form of an interview between the student and a psychologist to estimate the ‘radicalization risk’, and would include questions “to confirm or contradict the existence of an Islamic radicalization process,” Didier added in his Facebook message.

The questions could include the following: “Do you refuse sports activities on the pretext that they are mixed?” “How would you describe the recent attacks in France?” “What do you think of jihad?” and “Have you ever viewed videos or websites calling for Jihad?"

Should the test prove ‘positive’, the teenager’s parents “will be informed, and psychological as well as educational support will be implemented immediately, to halt the radicalization process.”

Didier said the student will then have to be tested to assess the progress of the ‘de-radicalization’. If the process doesn’t go as planned, the school will have to inform law enforcement authorities.

After the French official’s comments emerged online, hundreds of users took to Twitter, mainly to express their outrage over the suggestion, and mostly with a liberal sprinkling of humor.

“Do you regard your classmates as ‘unfaithful dogs’? [Answers]: A lot / Average / Not really,” one user joked about the possible questions for the test.

“I’m eating merguez [a North African sausage dish] and going to Hammam this afternoon. Should I take the radicalization test?” another user said.

“Those who take couscous at the canteen will automatically be flagged under the ‘file S’ [dangerous for national security],” a user posted.

Some users even came up with their own questions for the test, complete with answer options.

“When you can’t fall asleep, you like: a) counting sheep b) to strangle sheep.”

"When you need to get somewhere 2 kilometers away, you:
a) walk there
b) go by bike
c) rent a 19-ton truck."

Many wondered if ‘Islamization’ could be found by taking a blood or urine test, too. Others posted the ‘test-related’ pictures.

“Geoffroy Didier proposes a radicalization test. The first question: which photo do you prefer?”

“Jihad: do you find it cool?”

Didier’s suggestion comes about two weeks after an attack on a church in northern France in which two attackers slit an 86-year-old priest’s throat, also taking people hostage during a mass.

Both turned out to be French citizens, with one of them raised in the town of Sainte-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where the attack happened, and the other having grown up just outside the town.