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“Supporting France doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the rest of the world”

“Supporting France doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the rest of the world”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

UM commemorates Paris

MAASTRICHT. “The attacks on the Russian aeroplane, or Beirut last week, are just as barbaric as the one in Paris last Friday. But I know the neighbourhood in the French capital where it happened, I lived in Paris for a number of years when I was young, and I was there for UNESCO only last week. It is difficult to find words for the pain you feel when you see lives terminated in all those places that you know.”

Last Tuesday, rector Luc Soete spoke these words to a large group of French students and employees who had come together in the visitor’s centre, by invitation of the Executive Board, to commemorate the attacks in Paris. He ended his short speech with:  “Know that your pain is also ours.” After him, the French honorary consul in Limburg, Camille Oostwegel, spoke. He also extended his sympathy and ended with (just like Soete in fluent French): “Chèrs compatriotes, lets us stand and sing the Marseillaise together.” Immediately everyone stood, a few sang at the top of their voices, most sang somewhat quieter.

The French students and employees are happy with this meeting. “I’m not in France and feel bad that I’m not with my family and friends. I really needed to feel support, to meet French people. I don’t want to feel alone,” explains Anne-Lise Maintenant, an Erasmus student of European Studies. Next to her sits her friend Alice Clapasson, who feels just the same. “I got an alert on my telephone last Friday and immediately sent messages to friends and family in Paris. Luckily enough they were all safe.”

For first-year European Law School student, Mylène Lopez-Villa, it’s the first time she has met fellow countrymen since she came to Maastricht. “I felt alone. I have talked to Maastricht friends and students about what has happened. You get support, but there is also something else, we were just talking about this, here at the table: a lot of people, also on social media, say that the French are hypocrites. That we think that our lives are more valuable than those of people in Beirut or Kenya. We never said that. Supporting France doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the rest of the world.”

Tiffanny Mairet, a first-year student of European Studies who is sitting at the same table, can only agree, just as Maintenant and Clapasson. Mairet was in Paris last weekend, visiting her parents and friends. “I wasn’t in the city centre and only saw it on television. It was really hard and very scary. It was difficult to leave Paris on Monday. Just go, you will be safe in Maastricht, my parents and friends said. But they are not. My parents work in Paris, my friends go to university there. Most terrorists have died, but not all of them, that scares me.”

Wednesday evening 18 November, after Observant had gone to press, Inn Between organised a peace wake for students and employees in support of everyone who has to deal with hatred and violence, whether it is in France, Iraq, Lebanon or anywhere else in the world. Members of the Executive Board are to be present as well.

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