Toulouse. Simone Risch from Infos-Sectes Midi-Pyrénées: “Certain sectarian phenomena have gained momentum”

The essential Simone Risch, president of the Infos-Sectes Midi-Pyrénées, utters a “cry of alarm”. Since the beginning of the pandemic, and particularly in recent weeks, the number of reports of sectarian aberrations in Haute-Garonne has skyrocketed.

What have you been observing since the epidemic began?

In Haute-Garonne, we have received six to eight calls or emails a week about conspiracy movements like “One Nation” or “Awakened Beings” since the beginning of the pandemic. These are calls from people who are concerned and worried about their relatives or friends.

Some survivalist or conspirator-type drifts are thriving thanks to the health crisis. However, we refuse to become paranoid and see them everywhere. We therefore remain very cautious. When people faced with such a situation contact us, it is not an alarming question. The priority is to be able to tell if there is a sectarian drift or if it’s related to that person’s personality.

Why is the epidemic promoting this type of abuse?

Some phenomena have grown since the first delivery. People seeking help were drawn to the literature on social media. Groups of people offering treatments, therapies or even meditation have been radicalized and closed. We have also seen people, mostly mothers, who have included their children in their practices. They refuse to wear a mask, go to school, or make their friends …

You explained to me that little Mia’s affair generated more calls?

After the kidnapping of little Mia, we had many calls from needy and concerned families who feared similar situations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked a lot on groups that oppose national sovereignty. Mia’s mother is in contact with such groups. Some mothers who have been released from custody find themselves in networks between mothers. They run the risk of being absorbed into this type of discourse from the moment they isolate themselves and are supported by pseudotherapists.

When do you have to worry?

From the moment the family with their family and friends broke up that they only live for their practice, that they are on the networks all day, this should alarm. Even if the person has indisputable certainties that discussion is no longer possible.

What advice do you recommend to people whose relatives have suffered from sectarian aberrations?

We are not allowed to break the connection or judge, it sounds simple, but it is very important. You need to keep talking so the person can think for themselves. It’s not about coercion, it’s a long job.

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