Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
How Lodève played its part.
"Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité," who can possibly question this central tenet of the French constitution? But as we are all too aware, the right wing is growing more powerful all over Europe. In recent Dutch elections the right wing populist Party for Freedom won the greatest number of seats, while in France the far right leader Marine le Pen is a serious contender in the next presidential elections. So how does it feel to live in France? Are these values truly being upheld? This week saw the fortieth anniversary of a national anti-racism march. It all began when a twenty year old youth worker from an Algerian family was shot by police when helping a boy who had been bitten by a dog. Afterwards he called for a march between Marseilles and Paris to emphasise the need for non violence and unity. This march has taken place yearly ever since . But whilst this march is often compared to the non violence movement of Martin Luther King, how many people are aware of it, or indeed actually participate? Activists are saying that their message should be widely taught in schools , to combat the divisive attitudes of today. The recent police shooting of Nahel, a seventeen year old boy of Algerian descent, who was caught in a traffic stop, has been causing widespread protests , counter posed by a growing number of right wing street marches. And as conflict in Gaza continues, Jewish residents are feeling increasingly threatened in Paris. Clearly all is not well with the principles of the French constitution in France
But I live in a rural bubble. It is hard to know exactly how things really are. Whilst Montpellier seems to be a buzzing city with a vibrant multi racial feel, no doubted helped by the large student population, our home town of Lodève feels very different. Here there seem to be two distinct communities: original French born residents, and a large population of North African people and their descendants who mostly came to Lodève at the time of Algerian independence. From my superficial viewpoint there seems to be little mixing between these groups, and from time to time I sense a little resentment. But it was not always so. Back then,our little town of Lodève took action of which it should feel very proud. Let me tell you a feel good story...