Wednesday, June 5. Only a few days have passed, yet it seems like it has been an eternity. Since the death of Clément, we have been caught in ceaseless currents of grief. Nothing, perhaps not even the years and the experience that we do not yet have, could prepare us for the death of a friend and comrade. In spite of this, we have not been granted time for mourning, as the murder of Clément was a political murder. And a murder such as this requires a political response.
The world has not stopped out of respect for our tears, so we, out of respect for Clement, cannot stop in turn. We need to raise our heads, turn our pain into anger and our rage into strength. We want the immense pain, the irrepressible anger, rage, and strength which live in these words, to give Clément’s death the meaning he would have wanted to give it: a political meaning.
Sunday, June 2 – three days before the assassination of Clément – the Jewish Defence League (JDL), an ultra-nationalist pro-Israel militia, which is considered a terrorist organization and banned in the U.S. and Israel but tolerated in France, took credit for an attack on a young man named Mounir that left him in a coma.
Tuesday, June 4, a lesbian couple was violently attacked after a rally of anti-gay marriage “watchmen.” One of the women was immediately hospitalized, and declared medically unfit to work for 90 days.
Thursday, June 6, Rabia, a young woman wearing a headscarf, was violently assaulted by “two men with shaved heads” wearing bomber jackets, likely members of the extreme right. As she was trying to lodge a complaint, the police advised her to go home and “not to make any noise about this”. On the same day, as we were occupying the streets of Paris and other towns and cities in honour of Clément and his struggle against fascism, and as home secretary Valls was putting on a show talking about dissolving the Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires, one of the biggest round-ups of undocumented immigrants in recent years was taking place in Paris. On June 7, we learned that the prosecution was requesting the pardon of the police officer responsible for the death of Moushin and Lakhamy in Villiers-le-Bel in 2007.
The list, of course, does not end here.
Clément was not just murdered by a gang of fascists. He was not killed only by the extreme right. Clément is, more broadly, the victim of the swift rise of the most pernicious ideas and their growing acceptability in France and elsewhere in Europe. Clément was also killed by state-sponsored racism – Islamophobia in particular – xenophobia, homophobia. We have seen homophobia march unabashed in our streets for months. Islamophobia has occupied a central place within political and media discourse for years, accompanied by threats, harassment, and increasingly violent assaults. The “foul beast” does not create itself. The confidence shown by the extreme right is made possible by and feeds upon the racist, xenophobic, homophobic utterances and actions coming from and authorized by the institutions of power.
Clément was a heterosexual, cisgender white male student at Sciences Po. He was killed because he was an antifascist anarchist activist. He was killed as lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transgender people can be killed, if they have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was killed as non-whites, migrants, Muslims, which are the subject of the most unabashed racism, can be killed. His death moves public opinion in a way the deaths of non-white victims of police crimes and other racist murders rarely do. Despite the weight of pain, we cannot ignore this. This does not take away from our pain, and, if this is even possible, it adds to our rage and our determination to fight. Clément was an antifascist: he fought for the defence of radical equality of rights, alongside all those whom the extreme-right considers enemies to be slain – sexual minorities and transgender people, migrants, non-whites, Muslims, and political activists. Clément relentlessly denounced the trivialization and occasionally even institutionalization of ideas and practices from the extreme right. As long as, even among us, even in the revolutionary or radical left, we do not cleanse our discourse from any vestige of nationalism, as long as we do not fight racism, Islamophobia, the persecution of the Roma and the undocumented, homophobia, and sexism in a constant and sustained way, we will continue to lay the ground for the “foul beast” we see growing before us. We must continue this battle against fascism, by any means necessary.
Translation: Amanda, Felice, Sylvestre.