This blog being read in close to 50 countries, the post will be written in English so everybody can get a chance to take a look at it.
I will start by saying I will not speak about politics, war or deeper issues going on these days. All this blog post is about, is unity, humanity and paying respect to so many of my friends, with Arab backgrounds, Muslims or not. I feel there’s not much, we “little people” can do to radically overturn the current situation following the terrible terrorist attacks in France. But what I can do, is pay respect to you my friends, let you know how much of a big deal you are to me and how much I thank you for being part of my life.
I grew up in “la cité de Presles”, this is the part of town where not so wealthy people and a lot of Arabs would live in HLM (social housing). My parents weren’t well to do so this seemed to be a good solution for our growing family. There, I made the best of friends you could imagine and to this day, even though I no longer live in France and have moved from country to country, I am still in touch with them and I know how the recent attacks have touched them.
I personally think I am privileged to have had the opportunity to be exposed to different cultures from very early on in life. My closest neighbours were the twins, Saadia and Souhila. Many many times I ended up in their apartment instead of home with my parents and I was always welcomed like one of their own.
For me, the “Arab mamas” will always represent generosity and loving care (oh and the smell of safran, yum!). I may have never seen the color of their hair, but their heart has always been transparent. Such sweet ladies… I have in mind Madame Kanfouah (such a hardworking person) and Slimane’s mom (the biggest smile you would ever see).
Growing up, the names in my class were split in two pretty much equal groups: typical French names and Arab names. Virginie, Youssef, Aurélie, Zouhair, Sophie, Rafick. Ah Rafick, you were and you still are the best to me. Stay true to yourself and don’t let a few radicals look bad, YOU know you’re just amazing!
I don’t even know what life would look like without you all and your culture my friends. I’m sorry but life without khebabs (sans oignon, sauce blanche s’il vous plait) or couscous from La Médina de Mounir, is not a good enough life 🙂
I became a better basket ball coach because of all the time I put in those kids I trained. I knew they could move mountains with a bit of tough love…I will forever hold them in my heart and I am very proud of who they became. I’m thinking about you Nour-Eddine (aka Nono).
One of my very best friends is from Morroco, hein Karima? (aka Mama). One of my other very best friend Angélique has been in a multiracial relationship (as they call it) for years with Tarik, who is by the way one of the most hardworking people I have ever seen. I believe in you Tarik. All you have to do is believe in yourself now. These people are part of my life, close or far. WITHOUT them, I wouldn’t be who I am.
I just wanted to let you know that we are in this together. We are brothers and sisters (it’s cheesy I know but still) and I respect you, your religion and all your culture brings. You are important, no MATTER what.
(Maybe, just maybe…If we could all agree to disagree…)