After #ParisAttacks : colonial violence, racism & war

December 7th, 2015 | Posted in Events, France, Imperialism, Politics, Racism, Syria, War and Terror

Event : Roundtable – After #ParisAttacks : colonial violence, racism & war
Date : 9 décembre @ 6:30pm
Location : Café Aquin (*), local A-2030 (Pavillon Hubert-Aquin, 2nd floor)
Université du Québec à Montréal
400 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est, station Berri-UQÀM
Facebook event

The November 13th attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, were a grave tragedy, and exist only in the context of a greater continual process of violence and war in which France, NATO, the US and Canada have been central to such horrors. When Francois Hollande declared that “we are at war”, it was quite accurate but what had been left out, is that France has always been at war against those it seeks to oppress and dominate.

Since the nineteenth century, France has carved out pieces of Africa and the Middle East to benefit its own colonial empire, creating till this day unprecedented violence. Today, France’s role has changed little. This is demonstrated by its myriad interventions in Africa (the Operation Serval in Mali, for instance) and continued support for Israeli colonisation and apartheid. In response to the attacks in Paris, France has declared a “relentless war” against ISIS, in Syria, and called for “national unity”. On the international level, the same discourse was used by the French president in reference to “Daesh” and terrorism as “the common enemy”, or “common evil”.

Meanwhile the mainstream media ignores the context that gave rise to ISIS–the invasion and occupation of Iraq and, in conditions of deep and widespread economic vulnerability, the political incitement and use of sectarian division by regional powers and actors to undermine widespread movements for democratic and social transformation across the Arab world (in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq). France’s attempt to create a grand coalition to reinforce already existing military intervention will only deepen sectarianism and drastically impact the Syrian people and the Middle East as a whole.

In France, and across Europe and North America, the increased xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism cannot be separated from the broader processes of colonialism, empire, and war. The justification for colonialism and imperialism often hinges upon the social and political construction of an “enemy.” Images of veiled women having their bags searched by Belgian soldiers, or checkpoints in front of Mosques in Paris, only demonstrate the perpetual oppression faced by Muslims and Arabs in France, Europe and here in North America.

This roundtable discussion aims to create the necessary space for alternative discourses and a deeper understanding of the context of the events happening in France and shaping the Middle East. In addition, this event seeks to address the ongoing impacts of the legacy of French colonialism and the necessary solidarity and justice needed to fight against the racist, xenophobic backlash against immigrants, and migrants, not just in France, but also here in Canada.


Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University, Montreal. Holder of a PHD thesis about the History of Arab immigration in Canada, between identity construction and political mobilizations. She has published several articles on associations, identity construction and mobilization of the Arab minority in Canada, and on the immigration policies of the Canadian state. Her current research focuses on Islamophobia and the Muslim issue in France and Canada. She worked on the concept of Islamophobia, and she was leading a field research on the mobilizations against Islamophobia in France for the last 3 years. She now continues this research in Quebec.
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(Other speakers to be confirmed soon.)

Whisper translation from French to English will be available.

Childcare will be available with 48 hours notice; Please write to us at

* Café Aquin can be accessed via the metro entrance of UQAM, or from the street entrance to Pavillon Hubert-Aquin (A). Look for the signs once on the 2nd floor of the Pavillion.

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