Saturday, 13 April 2013

‘Black and Arab’ rail workers banned during Israeli President visit to France

In a statement issued on April 10 and made public by French investigative news outlet Mediapart, railroad workers union SUD-Rail union revealed that the SNCF [French national rail company] excluded its black and Muslim workers from working at the Gare du Nord station on March 8, as Israeli President, Shimon Peres arrived in Paris by train from Brussels.

The SUD-Rail accused RailStation Manager of Gare de Nord station of excluding “black people and Arabs” from being present for “security” reasons.

The head of SNCF subsidiary ITIREMIA later confirmed that workers had been removed based on their race as a “precautionary principle” to “protect employees from the humiliation they might encounter” at the hands of security personnel.

In a press release from trade union SUD-Rail, the Station Manager is reported to have said the night before the visit that “No Muslim employees must welcome the Israeli Head of State.”

According to the press release, when the workers demanded an explanation, the Manager justified it by saying it was because of “security reasons” and initially suggested it was protocol at the station as well as saying they were instructed to do so by the Israeli Ambassador to France and the Ministry of the Interior.

SNFC denied giving any such instructions.

Written with Abdul Adil for The Muslim News.

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