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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid