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Parisian fires continue Parisian fires continue
by Thanos Kalamidas
Issue 10
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In last month’s Ovi magazine, like others, we had an article about the French riots and the nights of burning cars in Paris. Even though it seems that the youngsters have calmed down in France, at least at the moment, there are new fires burning around Paris.

It is a pity that while Pinter gave a dramatic Nobel Prize speech that talked about truth, art and politics trying to wake up the intellectuals of this world and make them the edge of the spear against any kind of oppression, the intellectuals of France were responsible for the new fires starting in Paris.

The battlefield this time was the pages of the newspapers and the magazines. From one side there are titles like “the barbarians are in front of the gates” with French Minister of Interior Nicola Sarkozi as the representative of the worst racist nightmare and from the other side a group of writers who follow George Bush’s idea that this is a conflict of civilizations and it all starts from ‘Euro-Arabs’ in a ‘pogrom against European way of life and democracy.’

Surprisingly, these don’t come from old conservative analysts from the extreme right media but from philosophers like Andre Gliksman, a true representative of the May ‘68 generation in France; who goes much further using the word minister Sarkozi used to describe the youngsters ‘scum’, adding that hate was their only motive for starting the riots.

The French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said that all about unemployed youth is nothing more than ‘rubbish excuses from masochists’; sociologists who have no connection with reality.

These people are not an exception, the number of intellectuals supporting things like that is big and when you think that most of them were there in May ’68, when the whole of Europe changed, is scary. Nearly forty years ago, these people with their street fights in Paris demanding better education, work for the young and freedom didn’t just change their small university world, they changed the whole of Europe. They changed art and they became the beginning for something bigger and better. To read articles from Andre Gliksman supporting the invasion of Iraq and from Alain Finkielkraut becoming the Sarkozi of the intellectuals is at least shocking.

They go so far as to suggest to the state to take the French citizenship from the rebelling youth and have lessons at school explaining how much good the colonies policy did in Africa, something that has happen before only during the time of the Nazi-friendly regime in France and these are the short of opinions the National Front represents in France.

It’s like the new-republicans in the USA that surround George Bush’s administration, as a wave of new- Gaullists try to inject French politics with many similarities to their American cousins.

The truth is that all these arguments, which are not new in the French reality, deepen the differences between the social classes in France . If they add racial polarization nothing good will come out of it. By standing by, waiting and watching, it is not exactly the best reaction.


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