Log-book: December 2002

  About Church and churches  At the Mosque of Paris 
  Malian families expelled  José Bové is sentenced 
  French Bibliography  Archives of Partenia 




The Bible

Special Edition

About Church and churches

Smashing the doors of the St.Bernard Church in Paris and the forceful evacuation of the illegal refugees by the police, that was yesterday. A step forward had been made. The "right of sanctuary" in the churches, that was finished. The matter created such a stir in public opinion that many saw it as a foolish mistake.

The status of illegal refugees is regularized on a "one to one" basis, i.e. in dribs and drabs. Worn-out, many of them see the squatting of churches as the ultimate means to be heard.

Saint-Denis In August 2002, the St.Denis Basilica was squatted for fifteen days. In the calm. And with the understanding of the parish priest. But not that of the bishops of Ile de France who signed, on the 23 of September, a press release that such operations "do not serve the cause of the illegal refugees and do not improve their situation". In more or less well chosen words, these bishops affirm their solidarity as long as the refugees stay away from the churches. 

An occasional press release.? Not at all! While the bishops of France are gathered in Lourdes, illegal refugees once again organise a squat of a church in Paris.

The police intervene almost immediately insisting it is doing so "on the request of the authorities". The harm is done. From now on, we know that squatting a church does assure no longer the security of the illegal refugees.  interdit






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At the Mosque of Paris
Mosquée de Paris The Committee for the Homeless and myself were received by the Rector and the Grand Muphti of the Mosque of Paris. In the conference room, the atmosphere was friendly. During two hours, we felt fraternity and our exchanges were held in joy and simplicity. 
We had come to ask the Rector's to intervene with the President of the Republic to tell him our difficulties and deadlocks that the illegal refugees are experiencing. In this period where the great religions of the world are preparing to commemorate important spiritual events ( Ramadan, Christmas, Hannukah), we seek a substantial gesture of regularization.
With no reserve at all, the Rector gave us his consent to make the steps to contact the President. We wrote a text together. We revised it, made changes, signed it and sent it to the press.
The Rector thanked us for having contacted him but also to show solidarity with the young illegal refugees for whom life is so harsh. If it hadn't been for the Ramadan, he would have asked us to stay for the meal.  solidarité
Leaving the Mosque, the young Algerians of the Committee were happy and proud of the good reception that had been reserved for us.



Malian families expelled

These families have applied for low rental housing. But with no success. To end the precarious situation of their housing, they decided to occupy vacant apartments in an abandoned borough.

jeter dans la rue On many occasions, police made expulsions. Families and young children were thrown into the street. 

Those families that had not yet been expelled took them in. Solidarity is a must! How crammed they were in these apartments with no electricity or gas. Invited by the Support Committee, I spent the afternoon in meeting with them.

I am moved to see these tired but determined women, these children that can't receive schooling, these fathers who have permits, who work but cannot find a decent housing for their families. I never get used to this scandal. People from the press are there, taking note of the importance of this sad situation.

A meeting is held at the Administrative building. The families are all there standing up under the cold rain. They will stand there for hours, surrounded by policemen while the vast well-heated hall of the Administrative building could have been opened to them. I am part of the delegation at the negotiating table.

bureaucratie The tone is rapidly given. "Sir, women and children are in danger!" There will be no more expulsions and 12 apartments will be found. The rest will follow. It is dark when the meeting ends. Everybody is there under the rain waiting for words of hope that are not just promises. 




José Bové is sentenced

connaître son visage I was invited by " United People For Solidarity " in the French Upper Alps, at Embrun, for a public debate:"Poor in their country, illegal refugees in our country: Do they have a future?" The banquet room is filled with stands representing solidarity organizations.  It seems the whole world is present here.

As always, it is very important for people to have met an illegal refugee, to know his face, to be in relation with him. Then everything changes. If not, we keep to general ideas and we are afraid of foreigners.

After a wonderful day of meetings, I accepted an invitation to visit a couple from the Country Confederation union. In the mountain where the air is so pure, they have a goat farm and they sell cheese. With their two children, they live a happy and simple life, close to nature. I love being with them.

José Bové At the end of the day, we hear on the radio that José Bové has just been sentenced and he is condemned to14 months in jail. We are filled with consternation.  

His combat against GMO is a cause that needs to be fought because it is very engaging for the future. To send a union representative in prison is not without consequences. Once again we feel there is two kinds of justice.