I read this article in Le Monde and was very moved by it. I knew right away that I had to translate it and share it with the world.
While the US has its own long-standing problems with so-called terrorism, France has its own history with terrorism as well, quite different from ours. France and its people are also addressing it in a very different way than the US has. I thought this article would provide a new perspective on the subject.
Luc Besson wrote a sort of letter to the French and its immigrants after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. In it, he calls for change on the part of all French citizens, the powers-that-be, and, specifically, Muslims in order to combat terrorism and ignorance about terrorism.
Also, if you would like to compare my work to another translation of this letter, here is one from The Guardian. There are some subtle differences, especially towards the end, but some of them really demonstrate how translation can change the author's message.
Together, let’s right the injustice done to our youth
(Original, French text: http://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2015/01/10/reparons-ensemble-l-injustice-faite-a-la-jeunesse_4553440_1653578.html)
By Luc Besson, director, producer in French cinema
Translation by Brooke Cochran
"My brother, I wish you knew how bad I feel for you today, you and your beautiful religion, soiled, humiliated, and criticized. Your strength, energy, humor, heart, and sense of fraternity have been overshadowed. It's unfair and together we're going to right this injustice. There are millions of us who love you and who are all going to help you. Let's start at the beginning. What kind of society do we offer you?
One based on money, profit, segregation, and racism. In certain banlieues*, unemployment is at 50% for the under 25 age group. We brush you aside because of your skin color or name. We subject you to surveillance 10 times a day, we cram you into blocks of subsidized high-rises, and there is no one to represent you. Who could live and flourish under such conditions?
We prioritize profit over everything else. We cut up and sell all the fruit trees for lumber, and then, we are surprised when we don't have any fruit. That's the real problem, and it's up to all of us to resolve it.
I'm calling out to the powers that be, to the big bosses, to the leaders. Help this humiliated youth that just wants to be a part of society. The economy is there to help us, and not the opposite way around. To do good is the best profit. Dear leaders, do you have any children? Do you love them? What do you want to leave for them? Cash? Why not a more just world? That's what would make your children the most proud of you.
We can't build happiness on others' misfortune. It's not the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim way. It's just selfish, and it will drive our society and planet straight into a wall. Hence, we have work to do starting immediately in order to honor the dead.
TERRORISM WILL NEVER WIN OUT
And you, brother, also have work to do. How will you change this society we offer you? By working, studying, picking up a pen instead of a Kalashnikov. Democracy does offer some noble tools for you to defend yourself with. Take your destiny into your own hands, take power.
It costs 250 euros to buy a Kalashnikov, and barely 3 euros to buy a pen, and your response could have a thousand times bigger impact. Take power and play with the rules.
Take power democratically, help all your brothers. Terrorism will never win out. History is there to prove it. The idea of the martyr works both ways. Today, a thousand Cabus and Wolinskis were just born.
Take power and don’t let anyone take power over you. If the presumed perpetrators of this tragedy are actually guilty, know that these two men with blood on their hands aren’t your brothers, and we all know it.
They are only two weak-spirited men, abandoned by society, then taken advantage of by a preacher who sold eternity to them... Radical preachers who run a business and play with your misfortune don't have good intentions. They use your religion for their own benefit. It's their job, their little business. Tomorrow, my brother, we will be stronger and better united. I promise you. But today, brother, I'm crying with you."
*banlieues = the run-down suburbs of French cities, inhabited by mostly low-income, first, second, or third generation immigrants. (See this article for more info.)
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