Socialist Worker

Anti-racist on trial for book and song criticising France speaks out

Is freedom of expression an absolute value in France? Not for sociologist Said Bouamama and rapper Saidou. They are set to stand trial in France next week over a book and song they produced in 2010 called “Fuck France: the duty to be insolent”. Said told Socialist Worker why they needed to speak out.

Issue No. 2436

Graffiti saying Fuck France in 2008

Graffiti saying "Fuck France" in 2008 (Pic: Isobrown on Flickr)


Our book and song came about in the middle of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to impose a racist definition of national identity. 

One spontaneous response from young people in working class areas was to write graffiti on the walls saying “Nique la France”—“Fuck France”.

This graffiti was political, and showed the youth’s opposition. Of course, the mainstream media presented it instead as a danger to the republic.

Our book and song were intended to make sure this youth wasn’t left isolated, by bringing the visible support of a sociologist and a musician.

They highlighted the France that we don’t and can never love. The France of the counter-revolutionaries that put down the Paris Commune in 1871, Nazi collaborators, police searches, racist crimes, Islamophobia and Zionism.

A far right group attacked us for racism against “white people”—and the court decided to take their complaint seriously.

Apparently the book’s tone is unforgivable. It is a call for the mobilisation and self-organisation of people in working class areas. 

What’s also unforgivable is that we’ve linked together different fights in one common denunciation of the global system.

In France’s crisis-stricken society, the mere expression of revolt is considered dangerous.

Our trial is an attempt to intimidate activists in the hope that they stop expressing the anger that’s present in the poorer classes and especially among young people from migrant backgrounds.

Now politicians and the media have captured the emotion that people feel at the Charlie Hebdo attack. 

They are sending out a message of fear to justify repressive measures against working class areas that are living through massive impoverishment and racial discrimination.

The debate in the media is already focusing on the need for a French equivalent of the US Patriot Act passed after 9/11. 

The danger of a widespread social explosion is very real. State intelligence reports have been saying so for two years.

Assumed

The calls for national unity are actually an attempt to divide ordinary people according to their religions—or their assumed religions. To do this, the state has to present young Arab and black people as a danger to safety.

In three days 50 Islamophobic acts have taken place in France.

The anger is great among people from migrant backgrounds. But the media hype is drowning it out. 

Thousands of school and college students refused to take part in the minute’s silence of the “I am Charlie” campaign. 

Others put up their own posters, graffiti or tweets such as “I am Palestine” or “I am against Islamophobia”.

We need to bring together these forces to refuse national unity and respond to the official campaign. 

We want to send a message to working class areas of refusing to be intimidated, cowed or afraid. And it’s a call for self-organisation and solidarity against the unprecedented repression that is on its way.

Send messages of support for Said and Saidou’s campaign at devoirdinsolence@gmail.com

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