The Fire This Time

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Enraged French-Africans and French-Arabs took to the streets. For decades anger simmered as they endured poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, poor education, housing and above all, police brutality. Just as it was during the colonial days in Africa and the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Africans are now being portrayed by the media and French authorities as uncivilized and “barbaric.� The Associated Press, the leading newswire called the uprising a “savage assault� on the French people.

new about police denials of confrontations with African peoples—we’re quite familiar with it here in the U.S. Enraged French-Africans and French-Arabs took to the streets. For decades anger simmered as they endured poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, poor education, housing and above all, police brutality. Just as it was during the colonial days in Africa and the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Africans are now being portrayed by the media and French authorities as uncivilized and “barbaric.� The Associated Press, the leading newswire called the uprising a “savage assault� on the French people. Whenever Africans stand up for their rights white media demonize them as "barbaric" or "uncivilized."

As in other European countries, including Britain and Germany, the French have always discriminated against Africans to the extent that they treat them as second class citizens who do not have equal rights. The current turmoil was a time bomb long overdue to explode. The French will now have to do the right thing and fix the problems once and for good. Britain, Germany and other countries should see this situation as warning.

Nearly five million people of North and West African descent live in France, a country with a population of 62 million. These immigrants perform tedious and poorly paid jobs, while living in wretched housing projects. Successive French governments have always instituted social, economic, urban and political programs that were meant to deter progress within the African and migrant neighborhoods in France. There are no outstanding successful Africans in France with the exception of a few soccer players and musicians.

The French people and government must come face to face with reality and address the uprising by solving the root causes instead of calling the immigrants “barbaric.� Until that is done, we will similar scenes replayed throughout France and in other European countries.

Black Star News columnist Peter Okema Otika writes on African Affairs and can be reached at
p.okema@blackstarnews.com  To comment on this article please write to letters@blackstarnews.com

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