(Rough) translation of a interview with Mouloud Aounit, secrétaire général du Mouvement contre le racisme et pour le rapprochement entre les peuples (MRAP) (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship of People) given to the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur. Full texte in French here.
According to you, what is Nicolas Sarkozy’s aim when he calls for the expulsion of 120 youths arrested during the riots, including those who are legals in France?
Let’s be clear: for the last few months, Sarkozy has been giving in to the Front National, When he talks about ethnic cleansing, rabble and expulsions, he first and foremost gives them a testimony in view of the electoral campaign. When he advocates curfews, he sends a double message. First to the FN by satisfying their requests and secondly to these teenagers by saying: “we crushed your parents during the Algerian War, we will crush you in the same fashion” If you wanted to quench a fire with a container of petrol you wouldn’t do it any other way.
As for the double punishment, Nicolas Sarkozy’s words reveal this government’s autism, the fact that it understands none of the message these truly desperate cries coming from the suburbs carry. Of course, I condemn these violences and their consequences but what they mean is that this probleme cannot be solved without justice and without law. By implementing this double sentencing, Sarkozy shows the depth of his lie. He creates a very dangerous amalgamation between violence and immigration. Moreover, it does not solve anything. All it does is evacuating franco-french problems abroad: the failure of immigrations and integration policies.
At a time when the government calls for peace and order, will these words not inflame the resentment of the suburbs’ inhabitants?
Absolutely! Nicolas Sarkozy failed to understand that the violence shown in the last few days comes from the relegation, the marginalization these populations feel. This is where the discourse becomes demagogic since these youths are no foreigners, they are 4th generation French. However, we still fail to consider these populations for what they really are, i.e. French.
We consistently try to ethnicise the problems this violence highlighted. That is how we maintain a false problem to which the answer will never be found. It is nothing but fuel for hatred and violence.
People expected positive messages which would enable each and everyone to live in dignity and respect. Instead these populations have been submitted to more and more repressive policies for months. To this, you can add the humiliation brought on by Sarkozy’s little jibes and now a double humiliation brought on by the declaration of state of emergency which bring them back to a painful past.
I am of those who believe that this is a deliberate strategic political move. We know that one of the pillars of racism is the omnipresent colonial past. Racism is maintained by cultivating images of a shameful past one wishes to be over.
Jean-Marie Le Pen et le UMP Member of Parliament Jean-Paul Garraud call for some of the rioter to be stripped of their French nationality. How do you analyse this narrowing gap between a racist political movement and some members of the political majority?
We find ourselves today in a sort of escalation, overbidding that never seems to end. Sarkozy, through his provocations and logics, legitimised certain political movements advocating ethnical cleansing. We are slipping towards fascist practices being implemented in our society. It is a completely irresponsible attitude.
If you believe that you will be able to build something on a basis of peace by entertaining hatred, you are talking about the lack of responsibility of this political class that does not understand anything about the needs of the population expressing this violence. Yes, it is likely that following the recent steps taken by the government we will manage to restore public order but the embers now burn and with this kind of speech, they will be rekindled tomorrow, in a week, in a year and it will be far worse. The way the government is handling this problem is based on a very dangerous short-sighed logic.
Categories: France; News; Paris riots; Sarkozy; MRAP; Mouloud Aounit;