Rokhaya Diallo (Continuación)

University of Nantes lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid speaks in a square outside a church in La Roche-sur-Yon, western France, on Dec. 15. (Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, a tweet by Julien Aubert, a member of the French National Assembly, shocked France’s academic circles. “We request [that] the president of the National Assembly create a fact-finding mission about the intellectual ideological abuses within the university community”, Aubert wrote. The tweet seemed to put forth the idea of using legislative power to control the work of scholars, thereby infringing on academic freedom. It is part of a larger pattern taking place in France.

The statement attached to Aubert’s tweet, co-signed by National Assembly member Damien Abad, criticized “the importing from the United States of a ‘cancel culture’ that aims to silence everyone who speaks or behaves in a way that is considered ‘offensive.’”…  Seguir leyendo »

Protestors demonstrate against the global security law bill at Place du Trocadéro on Nov. 21 in Paris. (Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

On Saturday afternoon, a crowd chanted the country’s famous motto “Liberté!” on the symbolic human rights forecourt that faces the Eiffel Tower.

That was the second protest gathering thousands of people that week, despite the country’s health crisis and lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic. The demonstrations related to a new bill accused of obstructing civil liberties. As critics have argued, the “global security bill”, which received a first-reading adoption by the National Assembly on Nov. 24, jeopardizes the freedom of the press and could herald the introduction of a ubiquitous surveillance system.

The bill enacts unprecedented constraints on freedom of expression.…  Seguir leyendo »

People outside the Basilica of Notre-Dame de L’Assomption in Nice, France, pay their respects on Friday to those killed during a knife attack at the church a day earlier. (Daniel Cole/AP)

Once more, France has been struck by tragedy. A knife attack on Thursday at a church in Nice — by a man who later reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” at police — killed at least three people. Less than two weeks earlier, the horrific murder of a teacher had spread rage and emotion across the country. The alleged killer, a Muslim teenager who was offended by the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that Samuel Paty shared in his classroom, beheaded the teacher near a school in a Paris suburb on Oct. 16.

It is the responsibility of any government to address such atrocities and the context that allowed them to happen.…  Seguir leyendo »

In France, long regarded by foreigners as a country that is comfortable with bodies and sexuality, a debate about dress codes has revealed a deeper reality. Women’s bodies are still policed and sexualized — a trend that comes as no surprise to minority, and particularly Muslim, women in the country.

Last month, the hashtag #lundi14septembre (Monday, Sept. 14) spread on social media to protest strict dress codes and sexist comments targeting female students. Some young women complained about being humiliated by members of teaching staffs; one parent shared the story of a math teacher who told a teenager wearing a tank top that her “neckline was too conspicuous” and called her outfit “vulgar”.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Are we allowed to say ‘monkey’? … Maybe we’re allowed to say ‘monkey’ without insulting anyone?” asked former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a television show earlier this month.

The comments from a man who was once the highest authority in France drew much criticism, for good reason. Sarkozy was invited to the show to speak about his memoirs, which were just published, and to comment on French political life. While using the symbols of the three wise monkeys — who see, hear and speak no evil — to describe the political elite, he suddenly mentioned another controversy involving the use of the n-word — and, in doing so, made a shocking connection between monkeys and Black people.…  Seguir leyendo »

French police officers speak with a pedestrian in Saint-Ouen, near Paris, on April 2. (Ludovic Marin/Afp Via Getty Images)

As France approaches its eighth week under lockdown, the covid-19 pandemic has thrown the nation’s divisions and inequalities into stark relief. One of the most palpable is the stigma directed toward residents of the poorest neighborhoods and suburbs, where many minorities live.

“Lockdown in the suburbs challenged by violence and trafficking,” read one sensationalist headline. There are “young men with hoodies with a menacing look, who seem to use masks for the sole purpose of protecting their anonymity rather protecting themselves from an infection,” the piece complained. Another piece about Seine Saint-Denis — the poorest department, or regional division, in France’s mainland — was titled “Coronavirus in Seine Saint-Denis: record number of fines, police and justice get tougher.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman leaves a convenience store at the Elias Motsoaledi informal settlement in South Africa on Tuesday. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

Last week on French television, two doctors sparked anger with their comments. While speaking about finding a cure against the novel coronavirus, Jean-Paul Mira, the head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, asked, “If I could be provocative, should we not do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment or intensive care, a little bit like it’s done, by the way, for certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?” He was addressing the research director of France’s national health institute, Camille Locht, who promptly agreed.

Although they were speaking about putting human lives at risk, the two doctors sounded totally casual.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Thousands gathered in Paris to protest about the death of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old Frenchman who suffocated after being arrested by gendarmes during an identity check.’ Photograph: François Mori/AP

Black lives matter” was the slogan chanted last July at a demonstration against police violence in Paris. While the world’s eyes were on the US, where two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, had been killed by white police officers, thousands gathered in the French capital to protest about the death of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old Frenchman who suffocated after being arrested by gendarmes during an identity check.

In recent weeks, another young man from a Paris banlieue has made the headlines. It’s alleged that on 2 February in Aulnay-sous-Bois, Théo Luhaka, 22, attempted to intervene when a friend of his was the victim of a violent identity check.…  Seguir leyendo »

Manifestation contre les violences faites aux femmes, le 9 janvier, à Cologne. Sur la pancarte: «Les sexistes et les racistes avant tout des trous du cul.» Roberto Pfeil. AFP

L’horreur qui a frappé un incroyable nombre de femmes victimes d’une série d’agressions sexuelles perpétrées en pleine rue à Cologne a déclenché un déferlement de commentaires racistes pointant du doigt les origines ethniques et géographiques des agresseurs. Et un profond malaise au sein des mouvements militants. Entre la nécessité absolue de dénoncer ces atrocités en série et la crainte de désigner une catégorie de la population déjà victime de préjugés et de rejet, comment lutter contre les violences sexistes sans alimenter le racisme ? Dans ce contexte, l’analyse culturaliste proposée par l’intellectuel Kamel Daoud - selon laquelle ces violences trouveraient leurs sources dans les cultures musulmanes - a déclenché une nouvelle controverse.…  Seguir leyendo »