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Burning Spear News

Africans, Arabs in Paris suburbs rise up during pandemic lockdown

May 18, 2020
Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary General, African Socialist International

PARIS—Throughout April thousands of young Africans and Arabs locked down in the impoverished Paris suburbs rose up in fierce resistance against the ongoing French colonial state repression which has intensified as the coronavirus spreads.

By the end of April, violent clashes had spread across the suburban towns which encircle Paris, where the colonial police are using the coronavirus lockdown as their excuse to carry out violence and murder against our colonized people.

In mid-April police murdered Mohamed Gabsi, 33, in the south of France. The father-of-three died after cops were videoed viciously dragging him along the ground during a curfew.

On April 18, resistance flared up with colonized youth demanding justice for a 30-year-old Arab man critically injured and in a coma after an unmarked police car rammed his motorbike, leaving him in agony on the sidewalk as crowds of Arabs gathered in anger.

The police attack went viral on social media and residents can be seen accusing the police of deliberately opening the door of their vehicle to hit the biker. See the Facebook video of the police attack here.

Anger and anti-colonial resistance have spilled onto the streets of the country’s most impoverished neighbourhoods – leading to powerful standoffs between the colonized youth and the brutal colonial police.

On April 20 a full-scale rebellion broke out around high-rise public housing compounds in the town where the police attack took place. The resistance soon spread to other towns and suburbs where colonized African and Arab people are permanently locked down in poverty, unemployment and isolation.

On April 27, in an act of resistance, a car rammed two police motorcyclists in a Paris suburb, leaving one of the cops in an artificial coma in hospital as a result of his injuries, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported that “the 30-year-old driver was arrested at the scene and lived nearby in a working-class area close to where unrest erupted last week.”

Young Africans and Arabs are very angry

According to one resident of Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a town about 12 km north of Paris, cited in a Euronews article on April 23, the young people in her town are "very angry"

"They want to be the law and take justice into their own hands," she said.

The Euronews article continued with statements from the colonized residents:

“‘If this goes on, Villeneuve-la-Garenne will become the epicentre of a new French suburban revolution,’ says Mohsen Troudi, who has lived in the town for most of his life.

“He told Euronews that Saturday’s incident is just a sample of what youth in France’s suburbs have been experiencing for a long time.

"’It was the straw that broke the camel’s back because there have been many more incidents. We have a young guy who lives here who was shot at eight times because he refused to be checked by police. We have many such cases,’ Troudi said.”

“As he spoke, a dozen other young male residents of the suburb watched – several wearing masks or gloves, all standing 1.5 metres from each other.”

Our Party calls this the colonialvirus: we need power in our own hands

The crisis of imperialism in France did not start with coronavirus but it is being exposed and deepened by the colonial coronavirus pandemic.

Olivier Klein, the Socialist mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, the most impoverished of the Paris suburbs, stated to ABC News on April 26, “I feel the social crisis is growing with confinement.”

“We see numerous people in need, urgently, in a way we’ve never seen,” he told France Info radio. “In these tense neighborhoods, the smallest spark can trigger still more tension.”

Olivier Klein should know, however, that the colonial conditions are deeper than our “confinement” during this pandemic.

It was in his town that the great anticolonial rebellion of 2005 rose up, when Africans burned down nearly the whole of France, following the Police pursuit and murder of two African teenagers,  Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15.

The two Africans from Mali were electrocuted at a power station where they took refuge in an attempt to escape the French colonial police.

Georges-François Leclerc, the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis, another impoverished colonial suburb, voiced his concerns in the left-wing satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine’ (the Chained Duck) for "hunger riots".

The arrogant colonizer Leclerc stated that "food insecurity" threatens more than 15,000 and 20,000 people of the colonized population around Paris, who “between slums, emergency accommodation and the homes of migrant workers, will find it difficult to eat.”

How can we “socially distance” when we are the “essential workers?”

Moshen Troudi, the Arab resident of the Paris suburbs told Euronews: "We are the ones carrying the country these days. We are the ones still working to keep the economy going. But the state doesn’t respect us and doesn’t give us the means to live decently."

The colonized suburbs of Paris are a far cry from the colonial grandeur of the streets of Paris that was built on our backs.

Just as in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere, we cannot stay at home during the lockdown because we make up the so-called essential workers: supermarket cashiers, security personnel, truck drivers and cleaners.

African workers can’t work at home. We are forced to continue riding crowded public transportation to and from work.

Because of a reduction in services, buses and tramways remain packed—and we know that on the commute we risk catching the virus and bringing it back to the cramped apartments we share with our families.

According to Euronews, many African and Arab workers “have lost their jobs or are unable to conduct informal economic activities that previously enabled them to feed their families. For them, the lockdown has been compounding economic and social woes.”

Two societies divided by colonialism inside France

As soon as it became clear that the pandemic lockdown was inevitable to avoid the spread of the virus, white people packed up and drove out to the French countryside where they have family homes or second residential homes.

Meanwhile, most colonized people are stuck in France’s overcrowded housing projects, where we live on top of each other and bump into each other all the time.

This substandard housing is the norm for the vast majority of Africans who have no other way out of colonialism than to join the fight for Black Power right there in France.

We know from the theory of African Internationalism created by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African Socialist International, that France was built on the backs of African people and the European assault on Africa, turning African people into commodities for sale and stealing our labor, land and resources.

This was how capitalism was born and the only reason Europe and the white world is so wealthy and powerful.

All white people, including French working people, sit on the pedestal of the oppression and plunder of African and colonized peoples.

This is why the African People’s Socialist Party launched the People’s War to fight this virus that we call the colonialvirus.

This is not a medical problem. This is a political problem. We must have power over our own lives.

African people must unite as one all over the world to reclaim, liberate and govern Our Africa under the leadership of the African working class.

We demand reparations from the colonizer nation and demand that U.S. and French imperialism and parasitic capitalism be wiped off the planet forever.

Join the African People’s Socialist Party at apspuhuru.org.

Get organized for power in our own hands. Contact us at [email protected]

 

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