News / Africa

Colonial Ties Cloud Debate Over French Intervention in Mali

Colonial Ties Cloud Debate Over French Intervention in Malii
X
January 25, 2013 1:33 AM
France's intervention in Mali against Islamist militants has been welcomed by most moderate Malians. But for some, the military action has uncomfortable echoes of Europe's colonial past in Africa. And as Henry Ridgwell reports from Paris, France is disappointed by a less-than-enthusiastic response from its European partners.
Henry Ridgwell
France's intervention in Mali against Islamist militants has been welcomed by most moderate Malians. For some, however, the military action has uncomfortable echoes of Europe's colonial past in Africa.  And France is disappointed by a less than enthusiastic response from its European partners.

On a back street of the Paris suburb Montreuil lies the Foyer Bara, home to dozens of Malians who have emigrated to the former colonial power. Here you can get everything from a hot lunch to a haircut.

One topic dominates conversation: France’s military intervention.

Lammy Kamara is a Malian studying in Paris, who said the Malian people are happy because of the intervention against these people he called fanatics, who manipulate Islam. But he argued that the true cause of the crisis in the North is underdevelopment. And the causes of this poverty, he said, were imposed by the same nation that Mali now has asked to help stop the terrorism.

Support amid complicated past

France has had a difficult relationship with some of its immigrant communities in recent years, particularly in the suburbs of Paris. But most of the Malian community in Montreuil firmly supports France’s intervention in their home country.

The support goes both ways. Malian musicians performed at a recent solidarity meeting at Montreuil town hall. Top of the bill was Harlem Désir, chairman of the ruling Socialist Party. Désir said he had a message for "our" Malian friends: "We only want one thing - one Mali, free and democratic, and peaceful. Long live Mali, long live France, long live Montreuil, and long live the Republic."

Critics in France have called the military intervention ‘neo-colonialist.' That’s wrong, said Mahamadou Cissé, Vice President of the Council of Malians.

Cissé said France was the old colonial power of many African countries, including Mali. So the question of a French military intervention is always sensitive. But in this particular case, he said, there are circumstances that give it legitimacy, give it legality.

Advocating intervention amid tepid EU help

Damien Helly is another resident of Montreuil and a Visiting Professor of the College of Europe, specializing in African affairs. “When a crisis erupts and the Africans are not ready to intervene, what do we have to do here in Europe as former colonial powers? So I think Mali is exactly a case of this dilemma for France, which is to intervene or not,” he said.

Helly said France has been left disappointed by the European Union (EU).

“Of course it’s a test for Europe. In the last four or five years you can see there’s been a lack of appetite from European members states to act militarily as the EU. France is the exception there, where it has been pushing for more intervention, but nobody really wants to do that anymore,” he said.

The residents of the Foyer Bara say they want a swift victory against the Islamist militants. Many Malians also wonder, though, what will happen after French troops depart.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hot Lunch Haircut
January 24, 2013 9:47 PM
Uncomfortable echoes of Euope's colonial past in Africa?
Critics of France's support and intervention need only to look at
the loss of lives in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Zimbabwe let alone the DRC and Somalia and "do the sums". Sadly failed states have been the root cause of humanitarian tragedy on
peoples lives and some Western Countries have "looked the other way".Sound familiar?


by: arthurpkaske from: Missoula Montana
January 24, 2013 7:39 PM
Can we just stop with the bigotry and racism for once, good God already!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid