Ukraine: Omar Sy tells the truth and triggers off controversy

“I am surprised to see that people are so hardly hit. Does it mean that when it comes to Africa, you are less hit? We remember that men can invade countries, kill civilians and children, but we have the feeling that we have to wait for the Ukrainian war to notice it”.

These words from French actor Omar Sy, Senegalese roots, logically triggered off a huge controversy in France, where politicians and anonymous fellows rushed to criticize a position that a lot of people, and not only Africans, have about the world situation and the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, that will soon be a one-year conflict.

French politicians criticized Sy on social networks, arguing that the French were not less hit regarding African trouble since a lot of French militaries died in Mali to help the Malian people to fight terrorism. Others said the French actor did not have lessons to give because he does not experiment the difficulties of the common people in those times of inflation, and reminded that Sy is now living in California to pay fewer taxes. As usual, talking about anything and nothing to try to make us forget about the core of the subject. Social networks and TV shows that keep ducking the issue.

First, freedom of speech is not just a beautiful idea, we can use it and tell what we think, what Sy actually did. Without trying to defend him, the actor merely gave his opinion on a tricky situation, and as often, saying something different from public opinion is always risky. Just consider things briefly: wars have been waged all over the world over the last few years. Civilians, parents, innocents and children keep being killed in Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Iran and a bunch of other countries. 

When it comes to Ukraine, and we do feel devastated and deeply moved for the Ukrainian people who did not ask for anything in this war, it looks like we all have to be hit, raise the Ukrainian flag on our balcony and make a donation to help the locals. Alright, but why do this for Ukraine and not for others? Because Ukraine is a European people not so far from us in France? So, being sensitive to someone’s misery would depend on how far people are from us?

Debates and questions, but truth hurts: a man remains a man, no matter the skin color, geographical location and earnings. A child killed in Sudan should arouse the same pain as a child dying in Eastern Europe. But if you say this, people will look shocked and compel you to apologize. Maybe we are losing memory, but before Ukraine, did we have the same care for Asian and African countries suffering from war and misery?

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