Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Freedom of Speech in the Age of New Media and New Publics: France, Europe and Beyond: A Visit from Rokhaya Diallo, Director of "Networks and Hate"

On October 21, 2016, the European Union Center at the University of Illinois held a roundtable and screening event, "Freedom of Speech in the Age of New Media and New Publics: France, Europe and Beyond."  This event was followed by the EU Studies Conference on October 22, 2016.  One of the guests was Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist and filmmaker.  Here, MAEUS student Paula Jaime Agramon covers her visit and discussion.

By Paula Jaime Agramon

French public figure and activist Rokhaya Diallo came to the University of Illinois for a series of two European Union Center events. The first was a roundtable discussing freedom of speech in a delicate era on France, Europe and beyond. Rokhaya also served as a keynote speaker during the lunch of our regional EU Studies conference where she spoke about being a transatlantic activist.

During the weekend, Rokhaya touched on very interesting and relevant topics. She discussed the risk associated with the state of emergency law that is still active in France after the series of attacks that started with the Charlie Hebdo attack. This law has been associated with attacks on the freedom of speech in France and often most of these attacks affect minorities in France. She mentioned that even though France’s law dictates that there are no minorities in France, that there are only French citizens, she also discussed the disparities and the unequal treatment of “minorities” that has only been enhanced with the state of emergency law.

Rokhaya also talked about how social movements and activism seem to follow the same steps here in the United States as they do in France. She mentioned how some people seem to follow the activism movements here in the United States because they feel they carry more weight and also seem to be more legitimate. She talked about how she does not feel the same way, but at the same time, she recognizes how it is positive that movements can expand across borders to gain more strength.

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