Tuesday, 9 March 2010
I don't know who (if anyone) actually reads this blog but for any hypothetical readers out there who don't have access to the French media here's a little story which is not important enough to have reached the foreign newspapers but which reflects well the climate in France at the moment. Najlae Lhimer is a 19 year old woman who fled Morocco in 2005 to escape a forced marriage (yes, do the maths, she was 14 at the time). She went to live with her brother in Loiret, a region in the centre of France. Her brother turned out to be no better than the other family members she had escaped from in Morocco and after being severely beaten to punish her for smoking she decided to complain to the police. She went to her local police station on the 18th of February and on the 20th February she found herself on a one-way flight to Rabat. Instead of listening to her complaint and prosecuting her brother the authorities treated her as an illegal immigrant (which she was) and exported her. Following pressure from the organization, Education Sans Frontières, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy decided to revoke this decision yesterday, an announcement planned to coincide with the International Women's Day. So King Nicolas the Short is the hero and the stupid local policemen are the villains, right? No, wrong. The villain is the government which created a new ministry of "Immigration and National Identity" (the running of which was confided first to Sarkozy's brown-nosing newt of a mate Brice Hortefeux and then to the Socialist turncoat Eric Besson) and which forces the police to perform a set number of expulsions per year. The police, guilty perhaps of a certain laziness, decided that the easiest way to fill their quotas would be to carry out identity checks in front of schools, at soup kitchens and, as it now appears, in police stations when victims come to complain of domestic violence. This is disgusting. And so too is Sarkozy's opportunistic show of magnanimity a few days before France's regional elections. Either the guy believes in the measures he has put in place or he doesn't but the situation at the moment is the worst of all possible worlds: a system where your rights depend not on the law but on the Neronic vagaries of presidential favour.