A French paratrooper in the Casbah in Algiers in June 1957. Nacerdine Zebar / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
A French paratrooper in the Casbah in Algiers in June 1957. Nacerdine Zebar / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The trouble with France: the largest Muslim community in Europe seethes on the periphery



Andrew Hussey doesn't give you the France of the guidebooks. His vision of the Republic extends far beyond the faded cafes of St ­Germain-de-Prés, or warm summer nights in Provence. In Paris: The Secret History, he told the story of those excluded from mainstream accounts, "marginal and subversive elements" as he described them, "insurrectionists, vagabonds, immigrants, sexual outsiders, criminals, whose experiences contradict and oppose official history". Flecked with the slang of the streets and off-the-beaten-path wanderings, this was about as unofficial as history gets.

In his dark, disturbing new book, The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs, Hussey, dean of the University of London Institute in Paris, again ventures to parts of France that aren't on any tourist itinerary – the impoverished, outlying areas of French cities known as the banlieues. More than one million immigrants reside in the banlieues around Paris, mostly from North and Sub-Saharan Africa, living in gritty housing estates. Not all banlieues are poor; but the perception remains in France that such places are rife with social problems.

“The banlieue is the very opposite of the bucolic suburban fantasy of the English imagination,” Hussey observes. “For most French people these days it means a threat, a very urban form of decay, a place of racial tensions and of deadly if not random violence.”

Here, Hussey argues, a grim struggle is unfolding, pitting France’s Muslim minority, Europe’s largest, against the French state. Combining history, travelogue and reportage, Hussey explores the long, tangled history of France’s colonial conquest of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in the 19th and 20th centuries and the fraught legacies of the period that the author says cast a shadow over contemporary France.

Many Frenchmen and women would prefer to forget France’s colonial record in the Maghreb, but Hussey argues that it is precisely this legacy that is at the heart of the troubles he outlines. It’s the phenomenon of “an old nation whose identity as the world capital of liberty, equality and fraternity is at every step challenged and confronted by antagonisms with its cultural opposite – the secular republic against the politics of its dispossessed colonial subjects … [T]he fact is that France itself is still under attack from the angry and dispossessed heirs of the French colonial project”.

Hussey’s book succeeds most when he is describing his personal encounters in the immigrant neighbourhoods of Paris, Lyons and environs.

On his French journeys, he tries to make sense of the riots that have wracked these areas in recent years. Even those who have decent jobs, like a young Cameroonian computer engineer he spends time with in Bagneux, south of Paris, despair over life in the banlieue: “If you live here, if you speak with a banlieusard accent, you are condemned as an outsider in Paris and in fact in all French cities. It is a double-exile – you are already an outsider because you are black or Arab. But then you are an outsider because you are banlieusard.” He talks with people in cafes, shops and sports centres. His findings are troubling, if not shocking. He finds rage and anger aimed at two primary targets: France and Jews. Hussey also journeys to Muslim immigrant districts within Paris. After the murder of the Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and six other people in Toulouse in 2012 – the killer was Mohammed Merah, a French national of Algerian descent – he ventures into the Barbes district. Hussey has a keen ear for street slang and an eye for telling details. Hip-hop and football are common passions among the men he meets. He watches “young Arab lads flogging trabendo – Algerian slang for contraband goods, mainly cigarettes but also wristwatches, dope and cheap alcohol. Young Arabs and Africans are slouching on benches, smoking weed, gossiping, leering at girls.”

Outside a mosque, he asks a group of young men, Algerians and Muslims, what they think of the Toulouse murders and Merah. “We hear stuff. France is our enemy,” one tells Hussey. “So why live here? France is easy. No one is hungry. In Algeria you could starve to death. And that’s because of the French.” As for Merah, “He was just a guy who wanted to fight the enemy. He wanted to be a soldier.”

What is to explain such simmering discontent? Hussey plunges into the colonial and postcolonial histories of the Maghreb looking for answers. These sections take up the bulk of the book. Drawn from secondary sources in French and English, these long chapters offer a more conventional account, speeding you through the history of French rule in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Of these, it is Algeria, the biggest of the three Maghreb countries, that looms largest. The passage of Tunisia and Morocco into independence was one of relative peace; Algeria was a different case. Separation from France could never be easy – Algeria was governed as if it was part of France itself. (A young François Mitterrand declared: “Algeria is France. And who among you mesdames, messieurs, would not employ every means to preserve France?”) It had a large population of settlers known as pieds-noirs (“black-foot”) who were fiercely passionate about maintaining control. Algerian independence came at a steep price for both France and Algeria as a vicious war that pitted the National Liberation Front of Algeria against French forces raged from 1954 to 1962. Hussey’s account is luridly violent – it was a nightmarish struggle of beheadings, mutilations and mass killings on both sides. The French did indeed employ every means, including torture, to keep Algeria French. The struggle brought down the Fourth Republic and nearly caused a civil war within France.

Algeria’s post-independence years were troubled. Euphoria gave way to dismay and discontent in the 1970s and 1980s as Algeria’s rulers consolidated their regime. Social exclusion reigned; the ruling elites, known as le pouvoir (“the power”), “flaunted their wealth and privilege with their fast cars, fashionable clothes and international travel” while many Algerians merely scraped by. In the 1990s, a vicious struggle erupted as Islamist insurgents battled the Algerian government.

For Hussey, Algeria and France are locked into a fatal bind. A keen student of Frantz Fanon, the psychiatrist and theorist of anti-colonial struggle, Hussey reads the situation through the lens of psychology. The Algerians he encounters – mostly young men – rage at France; yet still it beckons. Millions of Algerians have made their home in French cities, trying to escape grinding poverty and unemployment at home. When Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president at the time, visited Algiers in 2007, he was greeted by crowds chanting: “Give us your visas!” Of this mass of contradictory feelings, Hussey writes, “nothing hurts more than unrequited love. It can literally drive you mad. This is why what happened in Algeria is best understood in the language of psychoanalysis.”

Hussey’s travels through the cities of the Maghreb make for dispiriting reading. He goes to Tangier, but not to pursue the tracks of Paul Bowles and other expatriate writers who lived in this famously exotic city. Morocco has its own population of troubled young men, some of whom have turned to radical Islam. Hussey notes that all 18 bombers convicted for the 2004 Madrid train bombings had connections to the city. In a cafe, he talks with patrons. “‘We should be making famous footballers who can play for Chelsea,’ I was told by a guy called Rachid, who spoke English with a Cockney accent as a result of his time spent in UK prisons. ‘But we don’t: we make jihadis instead.’”

There is little hope on these pages. Hussey gropes for explanations. Is such alienation cultural, economic, religious, existential? He sometimes lurches from one conclusion to another; in other instances, he suggests a mishmash of all four factors. Some of Hussey’s conclusions are overblown – “It may be that what France needs is not hard-headed political solutions or even psychiatry, but an exorcist” – but his reporting is solid and memorable. He might have offered comparisons with other countries and regions – how does the situation in France compare with, say, Italy or Scandinavia? What part of the troubles he describes can be explained by globalisation? Still, there is much to ponder here.

Matthew Price’s writing has been published in Bookforum, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and the Financial Times.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Results

5pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (Dirt) 1,000m, Winner: Hazeem Al Raed, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ahmed Al Shemaili (trainer)

5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 85,000 (D) 1,000m, Winner: Ghazwan Al Khalediah, Hugo Lebouc, Helal Al Alawi

6pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,400m, Winner: Dinar Al Khalediah, Patrick Cosgrave, Helal Al Alawi.

6.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Faith And Fortune, Sandro Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

7pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Only Smoke, Bernardo Pinheiro, Abdallah Al Hammadi.

7.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: AF Ramz, Saif Al Balushi, Khalifa Al Neyadi.

8pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 2,000m, Winner: AF Mass, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel.

LAST-16 FIXTURES

Sunday, January 20
3pm: Jordan v Vietnam at Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
6pm: Thailand v China at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: Iran v Oman at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Monday, January 21
3pm: Japan v Saudi Arabia at Sharjah Stadium
6pm: Australia v Uzbekistan at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: UAE v Kyrgyzstan at Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, January 22
5pm: South Korea v Bahrain at Rashid Stadium, Dubai
8pm: Qatar v Iraq at Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Company Profile

Name: JustClean

Based: Kuwait with offices in other GCC countries

Launch year: 2016

Number of employees: 130

Sector: online laundry service

Funding: $12.9m from Kuwait-based Faith Capital Holding

Alan Wake Remastered

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Consoles: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox: 360 & One & Series X/S and Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

How Alia's experiment will help humans get to Mars

Alia’s winning experiment examined how genes might change under the stresses caused by being in space, such as cosmic radiation and microgravity.

Her samples were placed in a machine on board the International Space Station. called a miniPCR thermal cycler, which can copy DNA multiple times.

After the samples were examined on return to Earth, scientists were able to successfully detect changes caused by being in space in the way DNA transmits instructions through proteins and other molecules in living organisms.

Although Alia’s samples were taken from nematode worms, the results have much bigger long term applications, especially for human space flight and long term missions, such as to Mars.

It also means that the first DNA experiments using human genomes can now be carried out on the ISS.

 

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.

THE SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder
Power: 210hp
Torque: 320Nm
Price: Starting from Dh89,900
On sale: Now

Abu Dhabi GP starting grid

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

5 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

6 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

7 Romain Grosjean (Haas)

8 Charles Leclerc (Sauber)

9 Esteban Ocon (Force India)

10 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

11 Carlos Sainz (Renault)

12 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)

13 Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

14 Sergio Perez (Force India)

15 Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

16 Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)

17 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)

18 Stoffe Vandoorne (McLaren)

19 Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)

20 Lance Stroll (Williams)

The National in Davos

We are bringing you the inside story from the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, a gathering of hundreds of world leaders, top executives and billionaires.

Keane on …

Liverpool’s Uefa Champions League bid: “They’re great. With the attacking force they have, for me, they’re certainly one of the favourites. You look at the teams left in it - they’re capable of scoring against anybody at any given time. Defensively they’ve been good, so I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t go on and win it.”

Mohamed Salah’s debut campaign at Anfield: “Unbelievable. He’s been phenomenal. You can name the front three, but for him on a personal level, he’s been unreal. He’s been great to watch and hopefully he can continue now until the end of the season - which I’m sure he will, because he’s been in fine form. He’s been incredible this season.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s instant impact at former club LA Galaxy: “Brilliant. It’s been a great start for him and for the club. They were crying out for another big name there. They were lacking that, for the prestige of LA Galaxy. And now they have one of the finest stars. I hope they can go win something this year.”

Abu Dhabi’s Racecard

5pm: Al Bithnah – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,200m
5.30pm: Al Khari – Hanidcap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
6pm: Al Qor – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,600m
7pm: Al Badiyah – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
7.30pm: Al Hayl – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m

Uefa Nations League

League A:
Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands

League B:
Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey

League C:
Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania

League D:
Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar

Hot Seat

Director: James Cullen Bressack

Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Shannen Doherty, Sam Asghari

Rating: 1/5

THE NEW BATCH'S FOCUS SECTORS

AiFlux – renewables, oil and gas

DevisionX – manufacturing

Event Gates – security and manufacturing

Farmdar – agriculture

Farmin – smart cities

Greener Crop – agriculture

Ipera.ai – space digitisation

Lune Technologies – fibre-optics

Monak – delivery

NutzenTech – environment

Nybl – machine learning

Occicor – shelf management

Olymon Solutions – smart automation

Pivony – user-generated data

PowerDev – energy big data

Sav – finance

Searover – renewables

Swftbox – delivery

Trade Capital Partners – FinTech

Valorafutbol – sports and entertainment

Workfam – employee engagement

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

IF YOU GO

The flights

FlyDubai flies direct from Dubai to Skopje in five hours from Dh1,314 return including taxes. Hourly buses from Skopje to Ohrid take three hours.

The tours

English-speaking guided tours of Ohrid town and the surrounding area are organised by Cultura 365; these cost €90 (Dh386) for a one-day trip including driver and guide and €100 a day (Dh429) for two people.

The hotels

Villa St Sofija in the old town of Ohrid, twin room from $54 (Dh198) a night.

St Naum Monastery, on the lake 30km south of Ohrid town, has updated its pilgrims' quarters into a modern 3-star hotel, with rooms overlooking the monastery courtyard and lake. Double room from $60 (Dh 220) a night.

'Jurassic World Dominion'

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt

Rating: 4/5

Results

2.30pm: Park Avenue – Conditions (PA) Dh80,000 (Dirt) 2,000m; Winner: Rb Seqondtonone, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

3.05pm: Al Furjan – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,200m; Winner: Bosphorus, Dane O’Neill, Bhupat Seemar

3.40pm: Mina – Rated Condition (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Royal Mews, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar

4.15pm: Aliyah – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (T) 1,900m; Winner: Ursa Minor, Ray Dawson, Ahmad bin Harmash

4.50pm: Riviera Beach – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 2,200m; Winner: Woodditton, Saif Al Balushi, Ahmad bin Harmash

5.25pm: Riviera – Handicap (TB) Dh2,000 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Al Madhar, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

6pm: Creek Views – Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Al Salt, Dane O’Neill, Erwan Charpy

Maestro

Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5

Springtime in a Broken Mirror,
Mario Benedetti, Penguin Modern Classics

 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Know your Camel lingo

The bairaq is a competition for the best herd of 50 camels, named for the banner its winner takes home

Namoos - a word of congratulations reserved for falconry competitions, camel races and camel pageants. It best translates as 'the pride of victory' - and for competitors, it is priceless

Asayel camels - sleek, short-haired hound-like racers

Majahim - chocolate-brown camels that can grow to weigh two tonnes. They were only valued for milk until camel pageantry took off in the 1990s

Millions Street - the thoroughfare where camels are led and where white 4x4s throng throughout the festival

How green is the expo nursery?

Some 400,000 shrubs and 13,000 trees in the on-site nursery

An additional 450,000 shrubs and 4,000 trees to be delivered in the months leading up to the expo

Ghaf, date palm, acacia arabica, acacia tortilis, vitex or sage, techoma and the salvadora are just some heat tolerant native plants in the nursery

Approximately 340 species of shrubs and trees selected for diverse landscape

The nursery team works exclusively with organic fertilisers and pesticides

All shrubs and trees supplied by Dubai Municipality

Most sourced from farms, nurseries across the country

Plants and trees are re-potted when they arrive at nursery to give them room to grow

Some mature trees are in open areas or planted within the expo site

Green waste is recycled as compost

Treated sewage effluent supplied by Dubai Municipality is used to meet the majority of the nursery’s irrigation needs

Construction workforce peaked at 40,000 workers

About 65,000 people have signed up to volunteer

Main themes of expo is  ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and three subthemes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability.

Expo 2020 Dubai to open in October 2020 and run for six months

RESULTS

1.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,200m
Winner: Lady Parma, Richard Mullen (jockey), Satish Seemar (trainer).
2.15pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,200m
Winner: Tabernas, Connor Beasley, Ahmed bin Harmash.
2.45pm: Handicap Dh95,000 1,200m
Winner: Night Castle, Connor Beasley, Satish Seemar.
3.15pm: Handicap Dh120,000 1,400m
Winner: Mystique Moon, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson.
3.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,400m
Winner: Mutawakked, Szczepan Mazur, Musabah Al Muhairi.
4.15pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,800m
Winner: Tafaakhor, Sandro Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
4.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,950m
Winner: Cranesbill, Fabrice Veron, Erwan Charpy.

Asia Cup Qualifier

Final
UAE v Hong Kong

TV:
Live on OSN Cricket HD. Coverage starts at 5.30am

 

 

The specs

Engine: 5.0-litre V8

Power: 480hp at 7,250rpm

Torque: 566Nm at 4,600rpm

Transmission: 10-speed auto

Fuel consumption: L/100km

Price: Dh306,495

On sale: now

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


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