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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un « modèle d’intégration » expulsé

by Dany Stive

Deportation of a “Model of Integration”

Translated Tuesday 29 January 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

Rights of Man. His father had been recruited by the coal-mining company Houillères du Nord. Mourad was a model high school student. It took less than 24 hours to deport him from France.

Nobody, at the technical high school Château-Blanc in Chalette, about 60 miles due south of Paris, could have imagined that Mourad H’Famou, a model student and a model of integration, might one day be deported from France. Still less could they have imagined the speed with which the government was going to send him back to Morocco: A few hours were all it took to arrest him, place him in police custody, send him to the detention center and push him onto a plane at the Paris airport. The teachers and students at the high school, shocked and emotional, but angry as well, refuse to accept the fait accompli and intend to do everything so that Mourad can return to class and obtain his technical diploma in cooling and air conditioning.

The laureate of a merit scholarship.

Doric Gabriels, Mourad’s French teacher, is still reeling. “Mourad is an execellent student and a nice boy. He played a very positive role in his class. The proof: the state organization for school management granted him a merit scholarship last September.” Mourad had arrived in France five years ago to be reunited with his father, who had been recruited in 1973 to work for the coal-mining company Houillères du Nord, which was then facing a labor shortage. Two years ago, when the government first troubled Mourad, there was an immediate mobilization to defend him. The Chalette town hall decided to sponsor him. The activists of the humanitarian organization Réseau Education sans frontières (RESF) kept watch over him, and consequently concern for him lessened. “When he offered to accompany an RESF activist to the prefecture in Orleans to help settle another foreigner’s case, we let him do so, despite our reticence.” The high school student’s life underwent a sudden change for the worse in the offices of the prefecture last Thursday (January 17). Two policemen arrested him and took him to the police station. Less than 24 hours later, he was deported “like a dog, with the clothes he had on his back, without having been allowed to say good-bye to his father” – the words pour non-stop from his teacher’s mouth. At the high school, emotion was at a fever pitch. On Friday morning, the teachers went on strike. Two hundred students joined the protest march to the sub-prefecture. “I’m 59 years old, and I’ve seen plenty of mobilizations in the course of my teaching career. But I’ve never seen a mobilization like this one,” said Doric Gabriels.

Not a day goes by without a demonstration.

Since then, the effects of the heady cocktail of emotion and anger have not subsided. Not a day goes by without the teachers and/or the students organizing a meeting, signing letters, initiating a procedure with the authorities, or lining up political support... Questioned, the prefecture declared that it had sent an “order to leave France” to Mourad at the end of October, and that this order explained that he was to be deported immediately. Everyone who knows the young man’s serious nature is bewildered by this. And, whatever the circumstances might be, they want him back fast: “We’ve contacted Mourad to tell him to ask for a visa right away.”

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