Symbolism Of Manouchian’s Pantheonization And The Immigration Law

Macron sees this as a way of looking at French history differently and inventing another relationship with compatriots whose families come from elsewhere. He argues that it is about recognizing what makes up the heart of the nation.

Symbolism Of Manouchian’s Pantheonization And The Immigration Law - SurgeZirc FR
Symbolism Of Manouchian’s Pantheonization And The Immigration Law.

The recent pantheonization of Missak Manouchian, along with his wife Mélinée and 23 of their companions, has sparked a debate in light of the immigration law in France. While the political class has largely celebrated this gesture by President Emmanuel Macron, questions arise regarding the symbolism of this act in the context of the current immigration policies.

Missak Manouchian, a resistance fighter of Armenian origin, arrived in France in 1924 after escaping the Armenian genocide. As a stateless individual, he embodies a double symbol of resistance: that of the communists through his commitment to the PCF in 1934, and that of the commitment of foreigners from immigration.

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The Élysée highlights Manouchian’s attachment to France, as he applied for citizenship twice, albeit without success. The entry of Manouchian and his companions into the Pantheon is seen as a reminder that being French is not based on origin or first name, but on will.

However, the pantheonization of Manouchian raises concerns in the context of the recent immigration law. PCF senator Pierre Ouzoulias, who was involved in the pantheonization, expresses disillusionment.

He questions the celebration of foreigners who died for France while drafting legislation that establishes de facto national preference in the allocation of certain social benefits. Ouzoulias sees this as a contradiction in the “at the same time” approach of Emmanuel Macron.

President Macron, on the other hand, categorically refutes this claim. He places the pantheonization of Manouchian in line with the recognition of “French people of preference” – those who are “French by choice and shed blood.”

Macron sees this as a way of looking at French history differently and inventing another relationship with compatriots whose families come from elsewhere. He argues that it is about recognizing what makes up the heart of the nation.

There is a notable gap between the commemorative aspect of the pantheonization and the political context of the immigration law.

Historian Pascal Blanchard points out that those who wanted this commemoration have been working on it for eight decades, while the short-term politics of two Macron mandates have seen a shift in migration policy. This paradox is not surprising, as precedents exist, such as the entry of Aimé Césaire into the Pantheon during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

It is worth noting that the immigration law, as passed by Parliament, would not have prevented Manouchian’s arrival in France. His case resembles that of an asylum seeker, as he arrived in Marseille with the Nansen passport created for stateless people in the 1920s.

The current immigration law does not directly affect the right to asylum, as emphasized by Emmanuel Macron. However, Blanchard highlights that we are not in a period of great openness to others, including in the policy of exile.

Previous laws have restricted the rights of asylum seekers, and it can be extrapolated that the current law would not have favored Manouchian’s installation in France.

The entrance ceremony to the Pantheon, with its symbolic decorations and soldiers of the Foreign Legion carrying the coffins of Manouchian and his wife, is set to pay tribute to the “preferably French.”

President Macron’s speech during the ceremony will be crucial in determining the nuance of the event. Will he reduce Manouchian to his Armenian identity, or will he open up to a broader dimension that includes all foreigners who died for France?

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