Graffitied in swirly red French handwriting, on the wide concrete track that leads through the camp, is the motto: ‘Nous sommes toutes des enfantes du Carnet!’: we are all children of the Carnet. The Carnet is a stretch of land on the Loire Estuary, next to the Saint-Nazaire seaport and downstream of France’s sixth largest city, Nantes. The 110 hectare area which incorporates 51 hectares of wetland and is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered and on the brink of local extinction, is under threat of development. With a nationwide shift towards supporting green energy projects, and the Saint-Nazaire seaport earmarked as a prime location for offshore wind farms, the Carnet has been chosen as the site for a new ‘green energy industrial park.
by Matt Musindi
Politics has become more divisive and polarised than ever, and it is the populists who have been the main beneficiaries of these political divisions. A populist is someone who consistently promises to channel the unified will of the people. Going off this definition, most political parties in liberal democracies are populist and yet this is not the case – why?
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2012, over three million civilians have fled the country. The vast majority are currently living in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Libya. Afghanistan has been subjected to war for four decades resulting in Afghans comprising the second highest refugee population in the world, yet the vast majority of Afghan refugees live in Iran and Pakistan. This resettlement of Syrian and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries is no anomaly: the majority of refugees around the world reside in countries neighbouring their own. These countries often have poor economies and fragility of peace and governance, yet they often accommodate millions of refugees.
CW: mentions of torture, violence, assault
For a few years now so-called leftists have been acting as cheerleaders for Syria’s President Assad. The apparent logic seems to go something like this: “American imperialism is abhorrent, so naturally we will embrace America’s enemy – Russia – and by extension, Assad as our friends.” Let me be clear: in this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend. It is perfectly feasible to recognise that Russia is an imperialist power and serial abuser of human rights without legitimizing America’s terrible track record of imperialism, occupation and human rights abuses.
by Mary O’Driscoll
Despite the visceral reaction that some may experience at the sight of the terms ‘far-right’ and ‘youth movement’ sat next to each other, the rise of anti-immigration far-right youth movements in European countries cannot be contested. Not only are far-right political parties moving closer to the mainstream, but young people are getting involved in movements opposing immigration. The values of far-right nationalist political parties such as National Rally (previously known as National Front) in France, Austria’s Freedom Party, and the League in Italy have been embodied in youth movements such as Generation Identity- a group that made the jump across the channel to the UK in 2017. With the painfully hypocritical border-focussed rhetoric of Trump’s United States, and the equally ironic anti-immigration discourse of a Brexit Britain, many people are under the impression that ‘Western’ countries are too generous to newcomers.
“I love my country too much to be nationalist.” – Albert Camus, First Letter: July 1943.
The collective Letters to a German Friend were clandestinely written and published by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich – fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent. Camus himself states that the letters should be viewed as “contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes.”
America’s influence in the Middle East is beginning to fray at the edges. This is bad news for both the region and the global community. America has, over the past decade, became something of a pariah in the area. Its foreign policy, already distrusted by enemies and allies alike, has looked increasingly unclear and erratic under the current administration.
While previous Presidents acted with caution and measure, the Trump White House presses on, having found in its new National Security Advisor John Bolton the man who would seemingly give weight to any decision that Donald Trump would be likely to favour, yet is already being rumoured to be behind Trump’s decision to withdraw from the North Korea Summit.
The US President, Donald Trump, has announced that the US will pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran much to the dismay of all those involved and many other countries around the world. The deal was viewed by Trump as ‘the worst deal ever’, possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible. Still, time limits were placed on these and other elements of the deal, meaning that in 15 years, Iran could have begun its nuclear programme again. While the JCPOA can, and should, be viewed as a successful deal, it is another example of not dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is the part Iran plays in propping up terrorist organisations and brutal regimes worldwide.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: article mentions antigypsyism, racism, discrimination and persecution
Opre Roma, si bakht akana
Aven mansa sa lumnyake Roma.
Roma arise! The time is now.
Come with me, Roma from all the world.
These words were written in 1949 by Žarko Jovanović, a Romani Holocaust survivor, Yugoslav Partisan fighter, and activist. They were put to a traditional melody, and adopted as the Romani Anthem in 1971.
It bears none of the hallmarks of an anthem as conceived in the traditional sense by European nation-states. It is not a hymn or an opera. It’s melody is plaintive, unstructured, reckless even. It does not conceive of a homeland, real or imagined, nor does it call for the unification of a people in a national sense. Instead the lyrics speak of the freedom of the road, freedom from persecution, and the need for unity of Romani people across the world. Amongst many other things, it is fundamentally a protest song.
by Jonathan Lee
If you get off the metro at Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, a little over a kilometre north of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, and follow the line of the disused 19th century Petite Ceinture railway for a couple of minutes from the busy intersection, you will soon come across rows of makeshift shacks lining the railway.
Similar shanty towns can be found tucked away under bridges, behind fences, and on ex-industrial plots across the city and throughout France. Along with a scattering of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, these slums are inhabited almost entirely by Roma.
by Jonathan Lee
A new project to count the number of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers in London was recently launched by London Gypsies & Travellers and Mapping for Change. Their goal is to provide an accurate estimate of the numbers and distribution of GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) people across the city.
Official census statistics on Romani and Traveller people in the UK are famously inaccurate (only 58,000 in the 2011 census). This is partly because neither group are traditionally very fond of official registers, particularly those which record ethnicity.
And why should we be?
By Olivia Hanks
Emmanuel Macron: enlightened, compassionate saviour of Europe, or sneering autocrat in the pocket of big business? France’s new president raised eyebrows across the political spectrum last week when he appeared to divide society into two: “successful people, and people who are nothing”. Macron was addressing entrepreneurs at the launch of Station F, a huge start-up hub based in a former railway station in Paris. Urging his audience to take nothing for granted, he observed that working in a station building would serve as a reminder, because “a station is a place where you mix with successful people, and people who are nothing.”
by Chris Jarvis
All eyes in the UK are currently on the snap General Election called by Theresa May earlier this week. Across the English channel though, another election, possibly with more seismic impacts for the future of Europe and the wider world took place today. French voters went to the polls in what has been an ever-changing and eye-wateringly close first round of their Presidential election. With 80% ballots counted at the time of publication, we now know that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will be going forward for a second round run-off vote on May 7th.
I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.
Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.
The idea of ‘twinning cities’ and forming links with other communities worldwide came about following the Second World War. It was seen as a way of spreading understanding of different cultures with the aim of lessening the risk of future international conflict. At present, twinned places are regularly used as opportunities for trade and business in the UK – but perhaps not justifying for many people the money spent on maintaining these friendships. However, with fear of outsiders and those different to us seemingly rife in the media and amongst public opinion, the bringing together and understanding of other worldwide communities seems an excellent justification for a twinning programme.
Norwich is currently twinned with four other cities across the globe; Rouen in France, Koblenz in Germany, Novi Sad in Serbia and El Vejo in Nicaragua.
by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year.
by Zoe Harding
In my last piece, while blithering about the US Presidential Race, I mentioned that one of the reasons for my interest in the politics of another country was the continued presence of their nuclear-capable aircraft in the skies over my head. This week I think I should clarify that, and take a look at what the world’s largest and most ludicrously overfunded military is up to in our neck of the woods.
by Olivia Hanks
Our grandparents might have been rather nonplussed to hear growing your own food described as a radical act, but in a society that views people chiefly as consumers, any step towards self-sufficiency is pretty subversive.
In France, where citizens generally attach more importance to food and its origins than in the UK, the last few years have seen an explosion in the number of small-scale organic food producers: in 2015, an average of 200 new organic farms sprang up every month.
On Saturday 9th I took part in the Anti-Racism and Anti-Austerity March in London, and it was during this event that I met two lovely young ladies of colour – one was Irish-Palestinian by descent (whose parents were both Catholic and Muslim) and the other was a Moroccan-French Muslim. It seemed rather fitting that, on this day, I chose to march against creeping racism in post-Brexit Britain alongside other people of mixed heritage.
by Mike Vinti
This weekend saw the start of Euro 2016, every European’s second favourite quadrennial football tournament. As I write, football fans of every stripe have descended on France and the op-ed writers of every political persuasion are spending their time priming think-pieces about what the clashes between England fans and the French police say about the EU referendum. However, the arrival of not-quite-the World Cup 2K16 also brings with it a chance to break away from eye-ball gauging mundanity of the referendum – to instead talk about, you guessed it, the relationship between music and football.
Football and music have always been locked in something of a confusing relationship. As someone who doesn’t really watch Football but listens to a lot of music, catching snippets of fan-made chants, usually through Facebook videos, has been my main access to the culture surrounding Britain’s favourite sport. The more attention I’ve paid to how the two interact, the more I’ve come to realise that music plays a huge, often vital role in the world of football.
On 9th and 31st March, a series of protests unfolded throughout France. Students and workers came together to reject the reform on the labour code proposed by the current French Minister of Labour, Myriam El Khomri. But what does this reform — the El Khomri law — really represent? And, with 71% of French people against the El Khomri law, why is it considered to be detrimental for wage earners?
by Robyn Banks
On Monday, French authorities moved in to begin a mass eviction of the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle, resulting in ‘clashes’ between the police and activists alongside refugees. Unfortunately, that seems to be about as much as anyone really knows. As my house is currently full with donations for the camp, I was pretty invested in finding out exactly what was going on. Which charities should I contact now? What do they need? Where will all the refugees go and how many of them will remain?
As I scrolled through page after page of pictures of tents on fire and riot police, every headline seemed to be ‘Clashes between police and…’ and even those that were helpful were contradictory. It seems that misinformation is rife, whether deliberate or due to the incompetency of authorities on the ground, and even long term and well informed activists in the camp have been confused.
by Eve Lacroix
2015 was a turning point in French security. After the attack of the 7th of January on the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and the multiple coordinated attacks in Parisian public spaces on the 13th of November, French President François Hollande decided to retaliate with a hardline approach, including a joint operation with the US forces of 20 airstrikes on the town of Raqqa in Syria.
After the November Paris attacks, President Hollande declared France in a state of emergency for three months. Those three months are soon coming to an end, and he plans to prolonge this measure when it runs out on the 26th of February. The state of emergency permits officials and police officers to raid houses and impose house arrests of suspected terrorists without passing first through the court. It is clear that this problem is ongoing. In the newspaper Le Figaro, a government report is cited stating that the number of radicalised individuals reported to authorities doubled since April 2015.
by Jess Howard
While some may see it as a separate entity altogether, fashion is unquestionably a form of art. From the creative process that designers progress through to create high fashion pieces, to the advertising campaigns used to sell them, fashion design influences the masses. But this is where the industry often encounters conflict: thousands of people are being diagnosed with eating disorders each year, and many are pointing their fingers at the fashion industry, for its insinuation that thinness represents the epitome of beauty.
In an attempt to combat this, France recently passed a bill stating that fashion models must prove they are healthy weight in order to appear on runways and in advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with this new ruling could lead to up to 6 months in prison and a £54,000 fine. Further more, magazines and advertising campaigns will now be required to make it clear to consumers that their images have been retouched. The purpose of this bill is to attempt to dramatically decrease the percentage of people in the country who develop anorexia, but is this going to work?
Borderlines is a collection of thought pieces, some creative, some direct accounts, some memoirs, all true. Borderlines collects stories from people who are not fleeing from one country to another, but rather chose to move, or were made to do so by a series of non-threatening circumstances. In these stories there is anger, hope, disappointment, joy, fear, optimism. They are all different, and yet all striking in their approach to the subject matter.
Borderlines aims to show the reality of migration, and how we are all, in our own way, migrants.
In my last article, I looked at Theresa May’s recent plans to further crack down on immigration by banning international students from working in the UK before, as well as after, graduation. This is to be achieved through various visa controls, as part of the Conservatives’ plan to cut net migration to “tens of thousands” by 2020 – despite the fact that the UK continues to suffer from skills shortages in many industries.
The past few weeks have seen waves of literature surrounding the issue of food waste by supermarkets, following the French parliament’s decision to pass legislation compelling retailers with 4,305 square feet of store space to donate any unsold, but still edible, food, to charity or for use as animal feed or farming compost. All stores which fall under this criterion are obliged to sign agreements with charities to facilitate the redistribution of such food by 2016, or could face penalties of up to €75,000.
Calls have since been made for the UK to follow suit, and no wonder given that the UK far and away wastes the most food out of any European country — amounting to 15bn tonnes a year according to the government backed organisation WRAP, although just over 1% of this comes from stores.
Girlhood, or Bande de Filles, is a French film directed by Céline Sciamma, centring on the character of Marieme, played by Karidja Touré. Taking place in a suburb of Paris, Marieme undergoes several transformations throughout the film, shown through her name change to ‘Vic – for Victory’, as well as through her appearance, sexuality, increasing misdemeanour behaviour, and relationships with family and friends. The film was humorous with Marieme’s knowing smile being a feature throughout, yet it also provided important social commentary.
The fact that seeing a French film with young black girls at the centre is so unusual, let alone it being shown in Odeon Cinemas (and not merely restricted to independent screens), plus the women playing the group of girls all being found through theatre classes and high schools as opposed to agencies, shows that there is a need for more film like this.
In the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there are so many avenues of investigation that require a spectrum of analysis – and in due course the tragedy will no doubt be discussed from every angle, and in excruciating detail. Over the past week, there has been comparatively little debate on the idea supposedly central to the Parisian publication itself though – satire. In an age of seemingly perpetual outrage, offensive material is routinely accepted because it dresses in the clothes of ‘satire’. But in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, somebody needs to ask the question “what exactly is satire, and who should it serve?”