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Society

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les philosophes, le sans-papiers et la police

by M. B.

Four philosophers, an illegal immigrant and the police

Translated Monday 29 December 2008, by Cynthia McKennon

Immigration. For protesting against a deportation, a week ago, when they boarded the plane, three French intellectuals were taken into custody.

The story goes back to Tuesday, December 16. Four French philosophers were leaving for the Democratic Republic of Congo to attend an academic conference, organized by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (Association of Francophone Universities) and the Catholic Faculties of Kinshasa.

Symposium Theme: « The culture of dialogue, national borders and the welcome of foreigners ». On boarding the plane, passengers discover an « African, handcuffed, surrounded by six policemen in plain clothes ». « The man was very quiet, very dignified », recalled Pierre Lauret, one of the philosophers. The organizer of the symposium, seated in the front of the plane, was too far away to intervene. But the three other philosophers were bewildered. To varying degrees, they are all activists for the cause of illegal immigrants, not ones to remain seated quietly finding themselves on the same flight as a deportee... « We simply asked questions. That drew the attention of passengers, virtually all Africans, who reacted with indignation », Pierre Lauret recalls. « We did not use slogans. The agitation started spontaneously , but quickly subsided. Fifteen minutes later, everyone was seated. »

Then the captain went over to Pierre Lauret’s seat and ordered him to disembark. The latter having refused, he was forced to do so by an escort of policemen in uniform who threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. « I was thrown into a van, with a bloody face, then placed in custody where I stayed for six hours. » Liberated at 8 p.m, he was charged with opposition to a deportation from France, and with obstructing the movement of an aircraft [1]. He is summoned to appear before the Bobigny Criminal Court on March 4.

And that’s not all. Yesterday, on their return flight from Kinshasa, two other philosophers of the group, Sophie Foch-Rémusat and Yves Cusset, were apprehended by police after getting off the plane and also placed in custody. They were still in custody late yesterday afternoon. Flabbergasted, Pierre Lauret wanted above all to denounce the role of the airline: « All this means that the crew informed the police of their names and their return date [2] Air France, in the person of the captain, has simply denounced them to the police. »


Editor’s notes:

[1Please refer to the article (in French): "Quand la PAF intimide les passagers", by Laurent Mouloud, l’Humanité, 12 December 2006, (http://www.humanite.fr/2006-12-12_Societe_Quand-la-PAF-intimide-les-passagers)

[2Another French language reference may be found here: (http://www.rue89.com/2008/12/22/air-france-a-t-elle-denonce-trois-philosophes-a-la-police)


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