Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

December 16, 2018

The New Yorker Interview with the Novelist Édouard Louis on the Gilets Jaunes Movement-France


                                                                                        


The French writer Édouard Louis’s roman à clef “The End of Eddy” had an explosive effect in France.
Photograph by Ryan Pfluger for The New Yorker






In 2014, the French writer Édouard Louis published “The End of Eddy,” a roman à clef based on his childhood in Hallencourt, a small town in the north of France. The world that it describes is brutal, marked by violence, prejudice, and pain. Like much of the surrounding region, Louis’s town suffers from post-industrial malaise; the vast majority of its residents vote for the far-right Front National. The novel’s protagonist, called Eddy Bellegueule (Louis’s given name, which he later officially changed), is gay, and made to suffer habitual shame and abuse. When, as a teen-ager, he finally manages to escape for the nearby city of Amiens, it is as if a canary has somehow flown out of the coal mine.

Louis’s novel centers on an unsparing portrait of his family, whose ignorance and cruelty, especially when directed toward Eddy, can be nearly unbearable. (He has said that everything in the novel is true.) But Louis also sought to expose the way that poverty and neglect by the state had deformed the lives of those around him. When he considers his mother, he thinks of the women, “torn between an absolute submission to power and an enduring sense of revolt,” who stormed Versailles at the start of the French Revolution only to salute the King. In France, “The End of Eddy” was seen as a burning letter sent from a forgotten place, and its effect was culturally explosive. Within a year of its publication, it had sold three hundred thousand copies.

In recent weeks, France has been seized by the protests of the gilets jaunes, an amorphous, leaderless group that consists, in part, of people like Louis’s family and former neighbors, who are furious with a government they feel has both forgotten and exploited them. Recently, on Twitter, Louis, who is twenty-six and lives in Paris, expressed frustration that the grievances of the gilets jaunes had been met with sensationalism by the press and disdain by politicians. “Something about the extreme violence and class contempt that is being unleashed on this movement paralyzes me,” he wrote. Earlier this week, we spoke over FaceTime about the gilets jaunes; Louis’s family; the case of Adama Traoré, a young black man whose death while in police custody, in 2016, became a flashpoint in France for issues of race and police brutality; and the political elasticity of protest movements.

The interview has been edited and condensed, and translated, in certain places, from the French.

Tell me why you decided to be at the gilets jaunes protest last Saturday.

I decided to go because I saw pictures from the movement. I was in the United States, in Providence, Rhode Island, and in those pictures, I saw very poor people, people like my mother, people like my father, exhausted people, extremely poor people. I was able to read it on their faces because I know those people. I recognized, suddenly, a body, in the noblest sense of the term. A body that I’m not used to seeing in the media. And I felt that these images were crying out to me.

There was the emergence of the kind of body that we never see, and, along with it, the kinds of words that we never hear. People are saying, “I can’t manage to feed myself, or my family. Christmas is coming up, and I can’t buy presents for my kids.” And, for me, a sentence like that is so much more political, so much more powerful, than all of this discourse about “the Republic,” the “people,” “coexistence,” “democracy.” What does any of that mean? These grand concepts that don’t really reflect anything. Nothing really, nothing corporal, at least.

Can you describe the kinds of bodies that you’re talking about?

It’s the body of social exclusion. It’s the body of poverty. It’s the body of people who are living in precarity, people from the North of France, or from the South of France, who don’t have money, who come from the kinds of families that haven’t gotten an education in five generations—families like mine. I grew up in a family of seven, and we had to live on seven hundred euros a month. Five kids and two adults. Maybe you have to really come from that world to immediately identify it.

Actually, when I started to write books, it was because I had the impression that these kinds of bodies were never depicted. And, when I was a kid, my parents, and especially my mother, always said, “No one is talking about us. No one cares about us.” One of the most violent feelings we had was this feeling of not existing in the public discourse, in the eyes and voices of others. It was like an obsession. There was not one day where my mother didn’t say, “No one is talking about us. The whole world could care less.” And so, for example, elections were the moment when she tried to fight against that kind of invisibility. Voilà.

When did you come back to France?

I came back after the first demonstration. And so I saw that as soon as these voices emerged, as soon as these people emerged, a huge part of the political field and a huge part of the media was trying to shut them down. Immediately, there were several strategies. The first strategy and I saw it a lot in the U.S. because I read the papers in the U.S., was to say, “Ah, you know, they’re a lot of middle-class people.” The middle class in the French sense, so, not poor, not rich, but in between. I saw that on TV, among the journalists—people had a kind of pleasure in repeating that. For me, it was another strategy in order to not address the issue of poor people.
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Because to say “middle class” is to legitimatize the protesters by making them seem familiar, part of the usual protests in France?

Absolutely. It’s another way of not talking about extremely poor people, or about their suffering. And, in addition to that, “middle class” is a very complicated concept. You have some people who are really suffering, you have some situations with people making two thousand euros a month but having five kids, having a wife or a husband that they are divorced from, who live in the middle of nowhere and have to pay, like, hundreds of euros for gas every month. It’s very complicated, and for me, it was a way of not talking about it.

But the biggest argument to delegitimize the movement was to say, “Oh, this movement is racist, it’s homophobic, it’s anti-climate,” because people were protesting the gas tax. And what I saw was the mobilization of the bourgeoisie to try to silence this demonstration, this movement. It was, “Please, shut them up. They need to be shut up.”

That really struck me, on a personal level, because when I published my first two novels, “The End of Eddy” and “History of Violence,” which spoke about this milieu, which I grew up in—a milieu of extreme poverty, of people who have been socially dispossessed and geographically excluded—I spoke about racism and homophobia in that world. And when I published those books in France, people said, “Oh, Édouard Louis says that people in the working class are homophobic and racist, that’s not true!” And so I, who came from the working class, and who was trying to speak about it, was being told, “Shut up, it’s not true, they’re not racist, they’re not homophobic. The poor are bons vivants, they’re authentic.”

And why, do you think? 

For me, it was simply a mechanism to stop the popular class from speaking. And so a few years later, now that there’s a movement that actually consists of those people, all the same people who attacked me are suddenly saying, “Oh, no, these people are racist, these people are homophobic, so we’ve got to shut them up.”

The dominant class, the bourgeoisie, doesn’t care about contradicting itself. One day, the working class were “authentic,” almost “good savages.” And the day after they were racist, homophobic, horrible people.

What you’re describing is like a mask being ripped off of society.

They were forced to say what they were, what they deeply think. I saw how much this kind of classism is ingrained in our society.

And of course, I don’t deny that there have been some homophobic things in this movement, some racist discourse, some racist acts. I know that. I’ve written about this milieu. I’ve written about my family. So I don’t deny that. I’m a gay person. I don’t say that homophobia is not a problem. I don’t say that it’s a secondary issue. But it’s precise because there has been some homophobia and some racism in this movement that we have to change this movement.

There is all of this pain, all of this suffering, that is expressed through the gilets jaunes. And, the question is, are these people are going to say, “We suffer because of the migrants, we suffer because of women’s rights,” as the far right says, or, “We suffer because of the violence of the dominant class, because of the government, because of Macron and Édouard Philippe”? People are trying to dismiss this movement by saying, “There’s some racism, there’s some homophobia.” But this is precisely the reason why we have to be there because we have to struggle in order to build another vocabulary.

When I was a child—and I don’t say it in order to talk about me but just because it’s the reality that I know the best, and I have the impression that I am more honest in talking about my own past—people like my father, my mother, people around me in the village, very often hesitated, when it was time to vote, between voting for the far right or voting for the left. Never for the mainstream right-wing parties, because they were the symbol of the dominant bourgeoisie. But they were always hesitating between the far right and the left, which was a way of saying, “Who is going to support me? Who is going to make me visible? Who is going to fight for me?” And so, which vocabulary am I going to use? Am I going to say, “I am suffering because of migrants, or because of social inequalities and classism”?

We know that the same thing happened in the United States. We know that some people who would have voted for Bernie Sanders voted for Donald Trump. When you suffer from poverty, from exclusion, from constant humiliation, you are just trying to find a way to say, “I suffer.”

Of course, there were, in my childhood, and I think in general, some people who were deeply racist, who will never change. When I was a child, it was some guys who had a croix gammée on their car, you know, the Hitlerian cross, or who have them tattooed on their skin.

But most of these people who voted for the far right were right-wing because the left hasn’t cared about them for so long. In the eighties, in the nineties, in the early two-thousands, the left-wing parties stopped talking about poverty, they stopped talking about pain at work, they stopped talking about precariousness. It’s the same throughout the world. So, the poor people, the working class, had the impression that no one cared about them anymore, and they started to vote for the far right.

How, with the gilets jaunes, do you imagine that the language around this movement could be reinvented? What would that require, or look like?

I think that what is important was for the left to be there, to be present. It’s already what started to happen with the gilets jaunes. At the beginning, you had a lot of right-wing people, some of the far-right—politicians or celebrities—who were supporting this movement. And then the movement started to become more left-wing because at the beginning they were talking only about gas, and now they are talking about social justice, equality.

I was there, last Saturday, as a part of the Comité Adama, which was created after Adama Traoré was killed by the police, two years ago. Several gendarmes stopped him—he wasn’t doing anything, he just didn’t have his I.D., and in France you can arrest someone if that person doesn’t have her or his I.D. but, obviously, they only do it against black people, people of color. It never happened to me. So, they arrested Adama Traoré. He didn’t want to be arrested, so he ran. It was his birthday, and he wanted to celebrate, he didn’t want to spend his night in jail just because he didn’t have his I.D. They stopped him, and three or four gendarmes put pressure on his body, asphyxiated him, and he died. Afterward, his sister, Assa Traoré, created the Comité Adama, which is now the most important organization that fights against racism in France, against police violence.

So, since the beginning, I have been part of this movement with Assa Traoré, and we’ve been there demonstrating together the last couple of weeks. At first, when some people from the media, from the bourgeoisie, were trying to dismiss the gilets jaunes movement, Assa Traoré said, “We will be there.” Many others did, too, and it challenged the vocabulary of this movement because it changes the face of who is seen to represent it. Our group marching looks different from the popular imagination of who the gilets jaunes are. I was walking with Assa Traoré, she’s a black woman. I’m a queer guy, I’m not very masculine. And we were part of the movement. We didn’t feel any violence from other people, except the police.

Now the thing that they are talking about is this violence—a car burnt, or the Arc de Triomphe being attacked. But, as many people have already said, what is this violence compared to the extreme violence of social domination, of poverty? My father is fifty years old. He has trouble walking. He cannot breathe at night without an apparatus so his heart doesn’t stop. And my father is young. The state of his body is due to social violence because he was a factory worker. At thirty-five, his back was destroyed in the factory. The French state, Nicolas Sarkozy, said, if you don’t go back to work, you will lose your welfare. And so now he’s fifty years old, he cannot walk anymore. What is a tag on the Arc de Triomphe compared to that? What is a car burning in comparison to that?

There’s been a lot of discussion of violence at gilets jaunes protests. We often see this word “casseur.” They’re vandals who show up at protests to break stuff, smash store windows, and things like that. Are they actually a part of the movement?

You have some casseurs who come to every single demonstration to break things. But there are also people who feel how unfair the world is, and they want to break everything because their lives have been broken, or because they saw broken lives around them. Some of them come from privilege, but you can come from a privileged milieu and think that all this violence around us is unbearable. So I wouldn’t dismiss it so easily. The question we should ask is not “Why are there some people breaking?” but “Why are there not more people breaking?”

My little sister was selling burgers at McDonald’s. She stopped school at sixteen, like my mother, like my father, like my grandmother, like everybody in my family. She was humiliated, she was insulted, she was treated so badly there. My little brother is an homme de menage, he is cleaning offices. People there don’t say hello, he doesn’t make any money. Why don’t people break more often? I don’t think that it’s my ideal. But, in terms of truthful social analysis, we should ask the question this way.

  • Alexandra Schwartz is a staff writer at The New Yorker.





November 29, 2018

French Politician Jean-Marie Le Pen to Pay Thousands Euros For Disparaging Gays




                                       Image result for Jean-Marie Le Pen



AFP/Geoffroy Hasselt
French judges have ordered far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen to pay thousands of euros in damages for remarks about homosexuals, including a about a verbal attack on a police officer killed in a terror attack in 2017.
 Penfounded the far-right National Front, which was renamed National Rally (RN)under the presidency of his daughter Marine in 2018, was condemned on three counts of public insult and one count of incitement to hate or violence.
In a March 2016 blog video, Le Pen said there was a link between “the exaltation of homosexuality” and paedophilia.
In December 2016, asked by a journalist about homosexuals in the party he cofounded, he said “it’s like salt with soup: if there is not enough, it’s too bland, and if it’s too much, it’s undrinkable”.
Judges decided the qualification of incitement to hate applied in this remark.
For each remark Le Pen was condemned to pay 10 euros per day for 40 days with the possibility of imprisonment in case of non-payment.
He was also ordered to pay 2000 euros in damages and interests to anti-discrimination group Mousse and an additional 2000 euros in fees.
The politician was also judged for comments about Xavier Jugelé, a police officer killed during a terror attack on the Champs-Elysées Avenue in Paris.
“I think this particularity of his family has to be separated from this sort of ceremony,” remarked Le Pen on the fact that Jugelé’s male companion spoke at a state tribute to the fallen officer.
For those remarks, Le Pen was given a second fine of 10 euros per day for 40 days, 5,000 euros in damages and interest to Jugelé’s widow, and 2000 euros in fees.
Le Pen indicated through his lawyer that he would appeal the rulings

November 13, 2018

The Only Uplifting Moment for Donald was Vladimir Otherwise He Seemed Grouchy and Not Happy to be There with The Many





Donald Trump joked about being "drenched" by rain as he gave a speech at an Armistice ceremony just a day after canceling a visit to a cemetery because of poor weather.
Talking at the Suresnes American Cemetery in France, he spoke of the “terrible cost” of the allied forces’ victory in World War One.
Thanking six World War Two veterans in the crowd, he turned to one and said: “You look so comfortable up there, under shelter, as we’re getting drenched. You’re very smart people.”
After that he complimented the group for looking “in very good shape” and said: “I hope I look like that one day.”


President Trump shelters under an umbrella as he walks through the cemetery (EPA)

On Saturday, President Trump faced criticism for canceling a trip to a World War One memorial due to bad weather.
He was due to take part in a wreath-laying event and a minute's silence at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, which is about 55 miles away from Paris.
However, heavy rain stopped him from arriving there via helicopter. 
It is not the first time he has bemoaned bad weather during a speech, having complained about a “bad hair day” when he spoke to reporters in the rain after a fatal shooting in Pittsburgh.


President Trump thanks military personnel and veterans in attendance

After this incident, which claimed 11 lives after a gunman attacked a synagogue, he said: “I was standing under the wing of Air Force One, doing a news conference earlier this morning, a very unfortunate news conference and the wind was blowing and the rain, and I was soaking wet.
“I said maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day.”


President Trump smiles Vladimir Putin arrives at an Armistice Day event in Paris (AFP/Getty Images). Donald falsies look they are about to come out and kiss Vladimir Putin. Have you ever seen a smile like that between two heads of state? That was not all they came making hand signals for the limited time they were both there.

In his memorial speech on Sunday, he thanked a number of military personnel in attendance and a young American boy who had saved up money to attend.
He spoke of the armistice celebrations in 1918, when people took to the streets on hearing the news of war is over, though he said: “Victory had come at a terrible cost.”


Mr. Trump also described it as a “brutal war” as he spoke of those who lost their lives.
Speaking of soldiers who fell in World War One, he said: “It’s our duty to preserve the civilization they protected.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump attended an event at the Arc de Triomphe, for the centenary of the armistice being signed. 
He was one of around 70 world leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin and Germany's Angela Merkel, to attend the service hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron.
This began slightly behind schedule and, after traveling separately from the majority of leaders in attendance, Mr. Trump was one of the last to arrive.

July 25, 2018

Macron Loves Parades Like Trump and Like Trump He is Incompetent(Ever Wonder Why They Get Along?)


 Follow Up to: https://adamfoxie.blogspot.com/2018/07/mamma-mia-and-premacron-aide-faking.html.    (including: A student activist filmed a woman and a man being beaten by Marcon man)


 The Limo broked down (?)That's where He and Trump go separate ways,Trump needs bullet proof tank.





For an event so small to become an affaire d'état suggests one of two things. 
Either the opposition and the media are so starved of material with which to beat the president that they are gleefully pushing the "Benalla affair" to the limit - at risk of overplaying their hand. 
Or the event in itself, though small, reveals a darker truth about the Macron presidency, one that we have till now all been too dazzled by his brilliance to notice. 
In fact, there is an element of both interpretations at work. 
The scandal will pass. 
It is not the Watergate equivalent that far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon imagines it to be.
There is no private militia at the Elysée palace. People can sense that the real culprit is Alexandre Benalla himself, who for a self-declared security officer showed himself disgracefully lacking in self-control.
But it is also true that President Emanuel Macron will not emerge unscathed. 

How scandal has exposed incompetence

His silence since the scandal erupted a week ago has come across as a sort of majestic insouciance, which irritates.  He has left it to others further down the chain to explain what went wrong and, certainly at the start, they made a complete hash of it. 

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron leave after the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, 14 July 2018Image copyrightEPA
Image captionPresident Macron's staff have failed to head off the affair before it became a national scandal

The whole affair has been built on incompetence, poor judgment of character, misuse of authority and hopeless communication - faults which were supposed to have disappeared from the Elysée in the shiny Macron era. 
People are seeing that he too has feet of clay. 
  • French MPs grill minister in beating row
  • Macron aide to be dismissed over assault
  • France brings back national service
The original sin - the abuse of protesters by presidential bodyguard Mr Benalla during violent protests on 1 May - could have been easily absolved, had the Elysée reacted promptly and properly. 
It should have been immediately apparent that a man prepared to go on freelance riot patrol and then succumb to a rush of blood should have no place on the head of state's inner security team. 

Why Macron's team have taken a hit

The fact that the violence was momentary and, in the scale of things, hardly the most brutal one has seen, is irrelevant. The behaviour was shameful and, more to the point, indicative of a serious lack of sangfroid
For a top security official, that is kind of crucial. 
Instead the Elysée - and by that we do not know if it means Mr Macron himself or a member of his cabinet - decided that Mr Benalla should stay. 
The president's team knew of the video, and of Mr Benalla's actions, the very next day - 2 May.

Elysée Chief Security Officer Alexandre Benalla is seen in the driver cabin (front L) of the bus carrying France's team players as they arrive on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on July 16, 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAlexandre Benalla was still in a high-profile job a week ago, here at the front of the France team bus in the heart of Paris

With no announcement to the public, they gave the security official merely a two-week suspension and then a technical demotion. 
In fact his role seems to have changed little. Only last week he was organising security for the French football team's bus ride to the Elysée through central Paris. 
The damage is caused because, to all outside appearances, the Elysée effectively carried out a cover-up. 
"No-one needs to know" seems to have been the watchword. The sin was venial. He's taken his due. And, after all, the president does rate him.

'Most serious crisis so far'

In its blindness the Elysée completely forgot the first rule of digital-era communication: that facts will out! 
Someone knew, so someone told. 
The best hunch is that the leak was from genuine protection officers, of the police variety, who found Mr Benalla insufferable.
And once the story broke, there was more disastrous communication when Mr Macron's official spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit told journalists that not only had the Elysée's sanction on Mr Benalla been appropriate, it was "the most severe ever applied to an Elysée official". 
Tellingly, and another sign of the thinness of the talent around Mr Macron, this risible intervention was Mr Roger-Petit's first ever appearance on television from the Elysée since he took his job last year. 
And so a sorry tale that should have ended with a few raised eyebrows and a handful of articles in the media concludes with what everyone is calling Emmanuel Macron's most serious crisis since taking office. 
The event itself is a small issue. What it says about the presidency rather less so.

July 23, 2018

Mamma Mia! and Pre.Macron Aide Faking Being Cop to Beat Up Protesters, Beyond Phycho!



TRUMP INVITES PUTIN TO WASHINGTON AFTER INTERVIEW FURORE

US President Donald Trump rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal that Russian authorities be allowed to question American citizens, the White House said on Thursday, after the offer drew fierce criticism in the United States.
The Republican president then directed his national security adviser, John Bolton, to invite Putin to Washington in the autumn, the White House said, four days after Trump held a summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki.
“President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a Twitter post. 
Following their summit on Monday, Putin described the proposal when he was asked about the possible extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted in the United States on charges of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

FRANCE'S MACRON UNDER FIRE AFTER AIDE CAUGHT BEATING MAY DAY PROTESTER

No Joke! The man in police shield is President Macron’s advisor (Alexandre Benalla) who beats protestors on May 1.
6:48 AM - 19 Jul 2018 
French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire on Thursday after his office briefly suspended one of his aides for beating a May Day protester and posing as a police officer, but did not inform law enforcement authorities.
Critics of Macron said the incident reinforced perceptions of a lofty, out-of-touch president, following controversies over government spending on official crockery, a swimming pool built at a presidential retreat, and cutting remarks by the president about the costs of welfare.
A video from a May Day rally this year, released by Le Monde newspaper on Wednesday, showed a man wearing a police helmet and identification tag dragging a woman away and then beating a demonstrator. He was later recognized as a member of the French presidency staff.

BURBERRY BURNS S$51 MILLION IN UNSOLD LUXURY PRODUCTS TO PROTECT BRAND






Luxury British fashion house Burberry destroyed tens of millions of dollars worth of its fashion and cosmetic products over the past year to protect its brand.
The company burned unsold clothes, accessories, and perfume worth £28.6 million (S$51 million), according to its annual report, in a practice now common across the industry to guard against counterfeiting.
Retailers describe it as a measure to protect intellectual property and prevent products from being stolen or sold at discounted prices.
FOOTBALL: LIVERPOOL SIGN BRAZILIAN GOALKEEPER ALISSON FOR WORLD RECORD FEE






Liverpool signed Brazil's Alisson from AS Roma on Thursday for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper.
The Serie A side said Liverpool had agreed on a deal worth up to €72.5 million (S$115 million) for the 25-year-old, eclipsing the previous record of €53 million paid by Juventus for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001.
Alisson made 37 league appearances for Roma last season and helped the club reach the Champions League semi-finals, where they were knocked out by Liverpool.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE ABBA SONG? MAMMA MIA! CAST SHARE THEIR PICKS 

 

From the upbeat Waterloo to the lesser known When I Kissed The Teacher, the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again cast belt out an array of Abba songs in the highly anticipated film, which comes out this week.

But which tune is their favorite?
At the movie's world premiere, Reuters asked the cast and crew of the new film, the sequel to 2008's Mamma Mia!, to name their top Abba tracks by the legendary Swedish band.
Straits Times

June 13, 2018

A French Couple Welcomes A Gay Refugee Escaping From Mali

Armand and Christophe decided to welcome a refugee after seeing the shocking image of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi who drowned off Turkey.


                                                    Image result for Alan Kurdi who drowned off Turkey



PARIS, France – Louis fled his native Mali without a backward glance to escape persecution for his sexuality and his activities in the LGBT community. In France, he found the moral support and understanding he needed with Armand and Christophe.

“I lost my mother when I was two and my father when I was 11. When I was 16, my grandmother died, so I was living alone in Bamako,” says the elegant youth, smartly turned out in a blue suit.
“Since 2007 I had been working as a team leader for an anti-aids NGO. I gave talks on awareness-raising and prevention, focusing on gays and lesbians.”

One evening, Louis received a whispered call from a neighbor warning him not to go home. According to him, there were some men waiting for Louis who had sworn to “kill the dirty faggot”. He never went home again, leaving without taking anything or telling his friends and family. 





“I had problems because of my work, but also because I am a bit effeminate. Since I was little people knew I was gay when they looked at me, although they had no evidence at the time. Since then, seeing the people I hang out with, some discreet, some less so, they understood what was going on and I started having a lot of trouble in the neighbourhood.”

After a long and hazardous journey, Louis found refuge in Paris with Armand and Christophe. The pair, who travel a lot, say they are open-minded and acutely aware of the rights and freedoms they enjoy in France compared to other parts of the world.

In 2015, they had the idea of taking in a refugee. “You know, there are some things that just touch a nerve,” says Armand. “For us, it was a tragic image that spread around the world, the photo of little Alan Kurdi found drowned in Turkey.

The world’s media published the photograph of the body of the Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach after he drowned when his family was desperately trying to reach safety in Europe.
“We thought we had to do something in the face of such a human tragedy.” 
“We thought we had to do something in the face of such a human tragedy.”
         
He and Christophe contacted the organization Réfugiés Bienvenue. They had no spare room in their small Paris apartment but suggested installing a foldaway bed in their living room.
“We have a nice life here and I reckon we are in a position, and have the means, to reach out to someone who was forced to flee his homeland because of war or persecution.”

Christophe adds: “Our awareness was raised by that humanitarian tragedy and, especially, by the crackdown on LGBT people. So, when people were forced to flee for such reasons, or were threatened because of their lifestyle, that was something that affected us greatly. At the same time, we thought it would be easier to live with someone who shared the same lifestyle as us.”
The young Malian appeared to be a perfect fit for a successful flat share. The first meeting took place in a restaurant. Everyone said yes, and the deal was done.

A week later, Louis rang the bell of the flat in the city’s eighth district.
“When I arrived on the first day, Armand and Christophe had put up decorations and a sign saying ‘Welcome Louis’. That was a surprise. I was very happy. Everything has gone well up to now. They have helped me a lot.”

By Clementine Baron

This story is part of the French chapter of No Stranger Place, developed and photographed by Aubrey Wade in partnership with UNHCR, profiling refugees and their hosts across Europe. The exhibition will go on display at Ground Control in Paris, on 20 June 2018.





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