Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Kufiyas and the Beur movement in France

I have read in a couple sources and also seen photos of kufiyas in the Beur movement in France of the eighties. The term Beur (verlan, a form of French slang that involves the reversal of syllables, for 'arabe') refers to young French Arabs of North African origin, the sons and daughters, or grandsons and granddaughters, of immigrants to France. Their movement was launched in 1983, with the March for Equality and Against Racism, which began in Marseille on October 15, 1983, and involved only 17 persons. It gradually picked up steam, and after 50 days, when it reached Paris on December 3, 1983, its numbers had grown, and tens of thousands rallied in Paris at its conclusion. Its effect was to put the issue of the Beurs and their struggles for recognition and against racism into public awareness. Below is one of the photos I've found (can't recall the source), and I think it is the activist Toumi Djaïdja (see below) who is wearing the kufiya.

Franceinfo INA did a short report on the 35th anniversary of the 1983 march in 2018, and it you can also see kufiyas on a number of the marchers, as in the screen shot below.

Also of interest is that it was not just Beurs wearing kufiyas, but also some of their non-Arab French supporters. There is a short clip of Father Christian Delorme wearing one as well.

Father Delorme is a progressive, activist priest, who served in Minguette, a banlieue of Lyon, home to a significant population of immigrants and their descendants. It was in the wake of a series of violent confrontations between young residents of Minguette and the police, in which a prominent activist named Toumi Djaïdja was badly injured, that the march originated. Delorme was one of the initiators and participants.

And here is the video clip from Franceinfo INA (1983 : La marche des beurs arrivait à Paris) sourced here. Another item of note is that Enrico Macias was one of the celebrities who joined the march when it arrived in Paris, and he is interviewed in this clip.

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