Hashtag: Made by refugees
The final day, as seen by Alice Barbe
I asked where Hamze was. They said: in Laurent Joffrin’s office. “Laurent Joffrin…? Is he here?” Yes he was, just behind me. I shook hands with the publications director of the Libération newspaper, feeling quite emotional. He looked like one of my father’s friends, with a more serious air. Joffrin reminded me slightly of my teenage years when I wanted to become a journalist. I saw him on TV, campaigning for the liberation of Florence Aubenas, a journalist who was being held hostage in Iraq. At the time, he made a big impression on me, and I wanted to speak up and defend worthy causes too.
He walked up to me and I introduced myself. I thanked him for the initiative taken by his newspaper and asked him where his office was. He invited me to follow him there.
As I entered the office I saw Hamze, all smiles. “I’m writing the editorial for tomorrow!” The Iranian politician looked as happy as a 6 year-old child who has been given his first fire engine. I walked along the corridors of this iconic newspaper’s offices, looking for my friends. Carlos was finishing his article on the situation in Colombia, Rooh was being interviewed by BFM and Ali showed me his drawings of Trump and Sarkozy, asking me which ones I preferred.
Libé has opened its doors to women and men who are refugees, so that they can write a whole issue of the paper. What a fascinating project! Now it was my turn to grin like a kid as we took a selfie by the cover page which was published when Stéphane Hessel passed away.
On the 7th of March, these very high-quality articles, written by refugees, would be read by thousands of people. Refugee: a word that is so often written about, an issue that inflames journalists, a few syllables that make politicians tense. This time, for once, there would be no talk of asylum or the OFPRA, no mention of costs, figures, or social benefits. Instead the subjects would be the presidential campaign, sport, sexism, geopolitical issues and Trump. In short, a newspaper packed with information, opinions and investigative journalism.
What has happened at Libé, in newspaper booths and in your hands as you read the paper is quite logical: it is a vision of a pluralistic and unified society. As Rooh says, “We fled here, and we will quite probably die here.” So we have to stop thinking “arrival” and start thinking “long-term”. Thinking long-term means realizing how much we can be amazed and surprised, but above all recognizing how outraged we all are. Refugees are at the heart of a political debate that they have not asked for and make headline news through no fault of their own. So, just for once, it is their turn to talk about current affairs, in all their diversity. Carlos, Inna, Hamze, Ali and all the others are also helping information, culture and citizenship to grow.
By : Alice Barbe, maker
Translation : Jenny Fowler
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