Wednesday, June 23, 2004

June 22, 2004

"It's all because of us, because of our color"

Libé reports that racist graffiti has been discovered on a house in Alsace belonging to a family with two adopted Congolese children.
Two swastikas, racist and homophobic inscriptions drawn in chalk on a wall of her house: this is what Christian Mertz, a 48 year-old nurse, found on returning to her home in Breitenback (Bas Rhin), a town of 600 inhabitants. Then again, the following morning: "House of Faggots," "Nigger in Afric" (sic), "France for the French," scrawled in a hurry. According to Christiane Mertz, it is her two adopted children, originally from the Congo, who were targeted. 'When we saw what was written, our 7 year-old son immediately felt guilty, saying, "it's all because of us, because of our color.'"

Settled in the village since 1998, Christiane and Christophe Mertz — who is also president of the Child of the Congo-Bethanie association — say their son "received a good welcome when he arrived in 1999." Two years alter, their daughter did not have such "luck." "We were told: 'is she yours? Will she stay? How many are going to bring from over there?'" says Christiane Mertz. "As if there were a feeling of being invaded."
Last Friday, the association's sign glued to their mail box was ripped off. Then the mail box itself was daubed with the words, "France for the French." Christiane Mertz points out that four kilometers away, "anti-Semitic documents were discovered during a junior high school history class" and that "one of the windows of the town synagogue was smashed."

Recently dubbed "the land of the right," by Le Monde, Alsace, the far-eastern region bordering Germany, was the only region of the twenty-two in France not to have voted in an opposition majority to its regional council — a fact perhaps unrelated to these events. Recent months have seen a considerable rise in racist and anti-Semitic behavior in Alsace. On June 13, 50 graves in a Muslim cemetery were defiled with neo-Nazi graffiti and the local Muslim community has been subjected to a series of threats: swastikas and the words "Death to Arabs" scrawled on a grocery store owned by a Muslim. Nazi graffiti was sprayed on a mosque. The offices of a Muslim funeral service were vandalized. And in April, 127 headstones in the Israelite cemetery of Hattstatt-Herrlisheim were defaced. The cemetery is all that remains of the town's Jewish population.

French and Indian War Simulacrum

Hundreds of war re-enactors will stage a key battle of the French and Indian War this week-end in Fort Ticonderoga, the first of several such reenactments (including others in Western PA and Old Fort Niagara) to take place this summer and marking the 250th anniversary of the war.

The Ticonderoga reenactment commemorates the British attack on a French garrison that was outnumbered five-to-one. The French defeated the redcoats in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on American soil.

Dislexic Man Walks into a Bra...

Expatica reports that a poll taken by "International Reader’s Digest" found that 22% of Belgians wish they were French (while 16% of Dutch want to be Belgian). The results come from a survey conducted among 4,000 people in 19 countries. Fifty-three percent of Flemish said they preferred French cooking but 64% of Walloons, who speak a dialect of French, preferred Italian cooking.

Twenty-two percent of all respondents disliked Germans, the highest level of antipathy expressed toward any nationality in the survey, with 32% of Belgians saying Germans should adopt a "more decent behavior."

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