The African man who saved the lives of at least six Jews in Paris has gone largely unacknowledged by the Jewish state, which judges people not by their acts but by their color and religion.
By: Kobi Niv
Lassana Bathily’s name probably does not mean very much to many people. He is a black Muslim immigrant, a 24-year-old Malian citizen who….
You might have thought that the above sentence was going to continue with a verb, such as “murdered,” “raped” or, at the very least, “stole” — but no. Bathily, the 24-year-old black Muslim immigrant, is the man whosaved at least six Jews from being murdered during the terror attack at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris, where he worked, by hiding them in the walk-in freezer and turning off its power switch.
Within a week, the French interior minister granted him the citizenship he had applied for six months earlier. This was after about 300,000 French citizens who regarded Bathily as a national hero signed a petition asking that the government do so.
An interesting new paper recently published in Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, discusses the impact of the 2011 campaign, carried out by the French government, to publicize and promote the law banning the full veil from public spaces. The paper goes on to discuss how this campaign used specific norms of female dress in order to establish a certain understanding of French citizenship, which in turn only served to further alienate young Muslim women in France.
In 2007 President Sarkozy pledged to ‘protect’ women from oppression. He led a nationwide consultation and political campaign centred on gender and nationalism to publicise and promote the law banning the full veil from public spaces. This brought forward tensions with Islam and raised questions about the exclusionary nature of French citizenship. In 2011 an act was passed prohibiting the concealment of the face in public spaces; the burqa ban. A new article by Claire Hancock in Gender, Place and Culture studies the implications for gender, race, religion and citizenship in France. Can a veiled woman be truly French?