carnet de route
Couscous at Rachid’s  
Expulsion of people with no official documents from a church  
In a village in Brittany  
A surrealist setting  
Couscous at Rachid’s  
I arrived at the suburban station where I wanted to go. It was on a Saturday night. There was a large crowd and the station had many exits ! Fortunately, my portable cellular phone came in handy. It makes it easy to contact people.  
militant des droits humains Rachid is Algerian. He is a militant for the human rights. Many years ago, we took part in a delegation in Tunisia for the defence of political prisoners.
Rachid was pleased that I finally had come to his place. We walked along the buildings. I was surprised to observe that the streets and public squares were gradually getting deserted. I had forgotten that a rugby game opposing France to New Zealand was about to begin.
We went into a building. Nabila, Rachid’s spouse, was waiting for us on the next floor up,. She is a Kabyle.
Both of them have jobs. They do not observe the Ramadan and they are not adverse to drinking wine. On top of working nights, Rachid is also studying employment law.
While Nabila was telling me about her summer holidays with her family in Algeria, a young French couple arrived with a cake. They had also been invited to eat the couscous.
Immediately, it became a pretty lively atmosphere and the couscous was delicious. How marvellous it was to be there! I even forgot all about the game I wanted to see!
I was saying to myself : « How well Nabila and Rachid had become integrated into the French society. What luck it was for me to be able to enjoy their company! If the French only knew them, they would change their views and attitudes towards foreigners ».
It was getting late. The young couple proposed to drive me back in their car. On the streets of Paris, it was easy to know who had won the famous game. There was exhiliration, shouting and festivities everywhere...
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Expulsion of people with no official documents from a church  
expulsion We were all gathered in a small modern church in the suburb of Paris waiting for the decision from the court. The bishop had asked for an expulsion. At noon, there was a phone call from the lawyers: the court had given reason to the bishop. A great silence then fell on the audience. There was disappointment. Disapproval. But the attitude was one of dignity and a responsible one. In the talks, there was no anger, no shouts. Since April 21st, they had occupied this church each night and the result was an expulsion! Next to me, a man was in tears.
These men and women love our country and do not want to leave it. Their children are attending school. They had received the support of elected people, of organizations, of labour unions, of associations as well as parishioners.
To me it is scandalous that a bishop could ask the expulsion of foreigners that have come to seek support and protection in his church.
When foreigners are expelled from the church, it is the deconsecrating of this church.
Hardly six hours after the decision of the court, around a hundred armed policemen with helmets were present on the site. A strong armed expulsion that shocked the residents of the borough.
Hardly six hours to apply the decision of the court. Six months to examine the files in the Prefect’s office. Some of the files are still pending!
The people with no official documents have determination. The fight continues, difficult and uncertain.
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In a village in Brittany  
For many years now, evening classes of adult education have been organized in this quiet village. People come from every corner of this region. For the second time I have accepted to talk about liberties. About the fight for liberties. The atmosphere was warm and the audience very attentive.
Is it possible today to become free men and women? Certainly the questions from the assembly reflect a climate of great liberty. For these persons, there is a query for autonomy, a desire to experience by oneself what makes someone tick, a quest for self-development. And even a claim to the right of being that you are, of realizing one’s potential.
The institution of the church is not spared from criticism: it is not present on location where life is precarious and threatened. It is perceived as a constraint preventing someone from living.
Then comes the often-heard acknowledgement: nobody goes to church! But if the churches are deserted, it is not so for the Gospel. If in the world no one were living the Gospel, mankind would be missing something essential: some sense, a breath, a cry…
églises désertées
témoins de l'évangile The witnesses of the Gospel are among us. They live in a very human way and in solidarity. They create life.
A man with an impressive stature came up to me and said:
« I have come tonight to thank you. I was in jail in Fealry Mérogis and you have participated in a support committee. When I was released, I saw in the newspaper of Brittany that you had taken my defence. »
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A surrealist setting  
As I left the subway at the Stock Exchange market station, I discovered impressive preparations for the shooting of a film: cameras, spotlights, electric cables everywhere. Technicians were busy setting up their cameras. Bystanders gathered to witness the odd sight.
On the adjoining street, policemen were everywhere, with many cars lined up one behind the other. Why are they present? Not for the shooting of the film nor for the Stock exchange market but for the African families who were on the sidewalk.
de ne plus se cacher Once again I have come to join these poor people that no one listens to but who are demonstrating their anger against imperturbable policemen.
They still have determination, despite the last seven years passed under a tent or outside and three expulsions by the police.
Since the policemen have taken their tents, they moved back on the sidewalks with blankets: « we have decided not to hide anymore, we will continue fighting. Even if it means sleeping standing up on the sidewalk. We are not afraid. We are not criminals. In front of the police, our strength redoubles. »
These families have official documents and jobs. But they are lodged in small hotel rooms, for lack of an answer to their request for social housing. They do not want to go back to these hotels that cost them too much and where it is not permitted to cook a meal.
It is a surrealist setting. The Stock exchange market, the symbol of Finance. The shooting of a film. African families threatened by expulsion. At anytime night or day.