Rencontre radiophonique de la réalisatrice Latino-Américaine Roxanne Frias autour de son film qui a fait campagne au moment des élections de 2016 aux USA « Latinos, the changing face of America ». En duo avec l’écrivain Karim Miské, auteur du polar et best-seller « Arab Jazz » sur notre plateau radio, discussion croisée autour des enjeux du multiculturalisme en France et aux Etats-Unis. Emission radio réalisée par les élèves de Tale 1 et 2 du lycée Suger. En écoute ci-dessous.

A lire également, la chronique rédigée à 4 mains par Mohamed Amine, Clara, Typhaine et Chelsea.


Questioning the working of multiculturalism in France and in the USA

American film-maker Roxanne Frias and French writer Karim Miské, author of “Arab Jazz” in Suger to discuss multiculturalism in France and in the USA with Suger and Stanford students on the mic. In this radio show, we wanted to question the working of multiculturalism in the USA, in France and in the UK.


Karim Miské’s “Arab Jazz” in Paris

Karim Miské came in Suger 3 years ago for the screening of your documentary film “Juifs musulmans si loin si proche”. The film documents in 4 episodes the history of religions, the periods of crusades, the times of peaceful co-existence in the 16th century in Spain, today’s divisions and conflicts. The film sheds lights over today’s conflicts in the world. Karim Miské is also a writer. We studied extracts from his novel Arab Jazz in class. He is a writer who says he belongs to the world of books. Belonging sounds like a complicated question to him.

We wanted to investigate the working of multiculturalism in France. We are going to open “Arab Jazz”, Karim Miské’s crime story. It is a novel that takes us in the 19th district of Paris to question mixity between the jewish and arab community. And not only because you also come across a wide range of people who give us some insight into Paris’multiculturalism. Please Karim Miské, feel free to interrupt any time to tell us more about your book. This is how we read it. It is like an investigation into the working of multiculturalism. Laura was killed. why ? Maybe a better understanding of multiculturalism could bring answers. Who is to be blamed for this crime ? The failure of multiculturalism ? Is it a failure ? Ahmed, the main character is French and Arab. He lives his life by proxy in books. He seems to belong to the world of books as his entire place is invaded by books. He is such a dreamer that he barely notices Laura, his neighbor. They could have been star-crossed lovers because he is Arab-French and she is French and they could have lived an impossible love, but Laura was killed. The book is about Laura’s murder.   She is a French white girl and the whole book is an investigation of her murder. For Ahmed crime stories become reality and that’s when he gets out of his book and starts investigating the district.   Arab Jazz, as you will see in the trailer, is a thriller in which Karim Miské draws contradictory portraits of society. The drug-dealers are fundamentalists and religious people who seem to wash their hands from their forbidden crime with religion. We also meet salafist gangs in the book.    I will let Clara introduce the characters because the book is a very interesting salad-bowl of people who all live together in that same pluri-ethnic district.


In Arab Jazz ”Karim Miské in Arab Jazz reveals a character split between his Arabic origin and his French belonging. In fact, Ahmed Taroudant, the novel’s main protagonist is a typical French-Arab person. He is split, confused about his identity because he doesn’t feel more Arabic than French as we have also seen in “Buddha of Suburbia”written by hanif Kureishi, where Karim the main character is also torn between his British identity and his Indian culture. In “Arab Jazz” Ahmed lives locked up in his studio, reading books, but especially crime novels. In his district real life may echo the books that he reads. The 19th district of Paris is poorly reputed because of gang-violence, drug-dealing, cultural clashes and religious fights between Jew and Arab communities.   These 2 have never mixed in history, so they create gangs and bunch up in their own community. In the setting of this investigation, the question of hybridization, of mixity is very important because Paris is portrayed as a multicultural city. Karim Miské reveals a panel of mix of religions, origins, cultures which is very impressive. Indeed, we have Ahmed the French-Arab no-life who loves reading crime stories. Fiction becomes reality for him because Laura his neighbor will be killed and that is what the investigation is about. We also have Rachel Kupferstein, a Jewish detective and then Hamelot, who is an atheist detective from Britany. He is portrayed as a chauvinistic character and he is a communist. If Karim Miské has chosen these protagonists, it is because he probably wants to caricature people living in the 19th district of Paris and investigate the working of French multiculturalism but also the working of religions as evoked in his documentary film “Jew Muslim, so close, so far”.

Similarly, in her documentary film, “Latinos the changing face of America”, film-maker Roxanne Frias investigates the working of multiculturalism in the USA. Roxanne Frias is a Latino-American film-maker who grew up in Los Angelès. She grew up with a dual identity as a Latina born in America. She now lives and teaches in France. In her movie, she shares the experience of Latino immigrants who leave their country to live the American Dream. This movie is maybe also a reminder of her own experience as a Latina in America, because her parents were immigrants to America. She also questions the future of America in terms of multiculturalism. She warns us about the demographic revolution of Latinos who are to change the political landscape of America.

Roxanne Frias, in her movie talks about a demographic revolution. She says Latinos will represent one third of the population in the USA in the future. In her film that we watched she also talks about the years of protest for equal rights and for an equal education.   The USA is the country of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is guaranteed and protected by the 1st Amendment of the constitution. The free speech act guarantees freedom of faith, freedom of education and freedom of political opinion, but the fight for equal rights has been a long-lasting fight. So people in the USA don’t have to be American. They don’t have to deny their culture to be part of the country.   America is a country of immigrants that was made up by immigrants. It is also a federal country and a split country. So no wonder that people live apart in their own community, which is the case of Latino people from Montebello in Los Angeles. In her film, Roxanne Frias says she is a Latina and that she is proud of her heritage. Let’s discover her in our radio show !