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An African Scholar’s Take on the French Uprising.

 
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Rakku Seccou
Rakku Seccou



Inscrit le: 23 Juil 2002
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MessagePosté le: Mer Nov 16, 2005 5:00 pm    Sujet du message: An African Scholar’s Take on the French Uprising. Répondre en citant

undoubtedlyone of the best articles on the crisis unfolding in France. Paul Zelaza, a history professor, takes us on a ride form slavery time to the hypocritical Enlightenment era down to the colonial period to explain the revolutionary reaction of the French outcasts.

Citation:

The Postcolonial Uprising in France
For more than two weeks now, fires of postcolonial fury have been raging across France, burning public buildings and private businesses, torching schools and police stations, incinerating cars and the conceits of this proud post-imperial country, exposing its contradictions and conflicts hidden deep in the suburbs—the banlieues—of post-industrial squalor and the national psyche of racial and religious intolerance. The state is shaken, so is the society, and both are desperately seeking to explain and contain the crisis, shifting from one characterization to another, one strategy to another. It is not just the banlieues that are in flames, but the very idea, the cherished ideal, the illusions of French republicanism. Memories of May 1968 are mined for illuminating parallels. But this civil unrest appears different, it is more widespread and more destructive than the student revolt of thirty-seven years ago, with a cast of actors unfamiliar in a country so enamored by its revolutionary traditions and its bequest of human rights to the world. The social crisis triggered by the riots evokes another history, the history of empire and anti-colonial struggles. It is a postcolonial uprising: Africa striking back.

The flames were sparked by the deaths of two youths of Tunisian and Mauritanian descent on October 27, who were electrocuted in a power substation while fleeing the police. From the shabby, segregated suburbs of the unglamorous Paris visitors and the smart classes never see, the explosion quickly spread to hundreds of cities and towns. By the end of first two weeks of the uprising more than 7,000 vehicles and dozens of buildings had been destroyed, more than 2,500 people arrested, thousands of police were mobilized to patrol the restive streets, and a state of emergency was declared. Not even elegant, tourist Paris could escape as police ringed the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees and nervous western governments issued travel warnings. Already reeling from losses of the EU constitution referendum and the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, the French establishment went into panic with emergency cabinet meetings, although President Jacques Chirac uncharacteristically disappeared from public view leaving the stage to the good-cop-bad-cop routine of his two aspiring successors: the second generation immigrant interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, with his inflammatory disdainful rhetoric and vague noises about “positive discrimination” and the unelected aristocratic prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, with his more diplomatic utterances and promises of more jobs and services.

The street battles have helped frame the uprising, or riots as the media prefers to name and contain them, as a duel between the repressive police and rampaging youths. The French police are notorious for their harsh treatment of youths of African descent, which escalated after the current rightwing government launched its so-called zero-tolerance anti-crime campaign as it lurched further to the right in an effort to appeal to an electorate increasingly frightened by globalization, ‘Islamic’ terrorism, and ‘foreigners.’ The political class was alrmed by the 2002 presidential elections. In the first round, and for the first time in the forty-four year history of the Fifth Republic, a neo-fascist party, the National Front, came second by winning nearly one-fifth of the votes cast and beating the socialists, and its leader Jean-Marie Le Pen proceeded to run against Chirac in the runoff elections. This is the political context in which the uprising has been taken place—a country that has been drifting steadily more rightwards since the 1990s.


follow link for the rest of the article
http://zeleza.com/blog/index.php?p=33#more-33
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Shan

Seccou bou Makk
Seccou bou Makk



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MessagePosté le: Mer Nov 16, 2005 10:22 pm    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

This article is extremely well written. It just summarizes how the so called "french integration" was a lie and is still a lie. Under the current french mindset you cannot be considered french if you are not caucasian. you are either white and first class citizen, non-white and 2nd class citizen, or last foreigner who needs to go back home. I believe the case of Sarkozy perfectly illustrates that idea. He is a second generation immigrant who managed to rises to the greatest spheres of power. Has he more talent than a handful of African second generation immigrants? no! Is he smarter than those people? No. The truth is he was given more opportunies than those people and those doors were opened to him in the sole basis of race.
One other interesting point that the author seems to point out is that Assimilation is inherently racist and that makes the french system racist. The policy of assimilation is no different to the ideas upheld by imperialist Europe which can be brought down to a single declaration: The only good, great, and legitimate civilization is western civilization PERIOD!
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Rakku Seccou
Rakku Seccou



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MessagePosté le: Jeu Nov 17, 2005 12:01 am    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Shan, I refer to it as the French Katrina in that it has unveiled the viciousness of a system that has kept a good portion of its population as second class citizen based solely on their race and origin. Just like the Americans were mortified that the world could see that not only parts of this prosperous nation are reminiscent of the poorest of the “third world” countries but people were left to fend for themselves because of their race and class, France, custodian of European civilization and culture transpires as a brute and racist nation that confines its own children to the worst degradation and jeopardizes their future.
We can only but salute the resolution of these youngsters who rose spontaneously to say “enough is enough”. May 68 looks like a picnic compared to what is happening there now and something positive will definitely come out of it.
Time for a civil rights movement to rise and become the voice of the voiceless.
Unfortunately I can see the intellectuals -absent from the front line-hijacking this movement and making a class issue out of it and the downtrodden being left out.
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