Meet the MRAP
The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples
Le MRAP: Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples
MRAP: Past and Present
MRAP was born during the difficult years of the Second World War, as part of the greater movement against Nazism and Fascism. Initially founded as an underground resistance movement in 1942, the MNCR (National Movement against Racism) merged, in the years following France’s liberation from Nazi rule, with the newly reconstituted LICA (International League Against Anti-Semitism), a prominent organization that had existed before the Second World War. In 1949, the LICA membership divided into two separate organizations: LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme / International League Against Racism and Antisemitism) and MRAP (Movement against Racism, Anti-Semitism and for Peace). Both organizations are still in existence today.
Immediately following its establishment, MRAP devoted itself to defending all victims of racial discrimination and to fighting all forms of racism in France and across the globe (notably the Rosenberg affair in the United States).
Officially recognized as a Community Education organization (Association d’Education Populaire) MRAP led youth education initiatives and, more generally, awareness campaigns aimed at shaping public opinion.
By the 1970’s, MRAP had become increasingly proactive on an international scale, supporting human rights efforts and anti-racist struggles across the globe. It became increasingly obvious that combatting racism necessarily includes the struggle against discrimination in all forms and manifestations. Consequently, the 1977 MRAP convention decided to change its name to “(the) Movement against racism and for friendship between peoples.”
MRAP’s Actions in France and around the Globe:
A - In France
• The struggle against Anti-Semitism in the years immediately following WWII and the Holocaust.
• Beginning in 1949, a powerful mobilization for the adoption of a law criminalizing racial defamation, racial discrimination in the public and private sectors, and provocation to racial hatred: the new legal instrument was unanimously approved on July 1st 1972 by both the Senate and National Assembly. The criminal code was further amended several times, most significantly by the Gayssot Act, enacted on July 13th, 1990. The Gayssot Act “prohibited all racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic acts,” and aimed specifically at severely penalizing Holocaust denial.
• Preventative actions and struggles, including legal action, against “racial discrimination.” MRAP spearheads initiatives aimed at upholding human rights standards as established:
• By the Geneva Convention for the rights of Refugees (July 28th, 1951)
• By the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Rome, April 4th, 1950), specifically in terms of the right to protection against all forms of degrading and inhuman treatment (article 3) and the right to respect for “private and family life” (article 8).
B - Around the World
- The international struggle against anti-Semitism, specifically through MRAP’s involvement in the international mobilization to save Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, accused of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Rosenbergs were executed on June 16th, 1953.
- Following the rise of Anti-Colonial movements after the Bandoeng Conference (18 - 24 April 1955), MRAP emphasized its commitment to solidarity with colonized peoples fighting for their freedom and dignity.
-The struggle against the “legal lynching” of African-Americans and Amerindians in the United States (exemplified by the cases of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier)
-Support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, through actions in solidarity with the ANC, specifically regarding the shipments of textbooks to South Africa. MRAP worked principally in support of ANC fighters in the 9 “front line” countries of southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and campaigned in support of the international boycott.
-Support for anti-colonial struggles from Algeria (1954-1962), to Timor (1976-2002) and the current struggle of the Sahraoui people.
II- MRAP Today
- Bearing in mind both its own history and the rapidly changing world, particularly in France and in Europe, MRAP works both nationally and locally through its local committees and regional organizations (some 200, throughout France):
A: The struggle against all manifestations of “common” racism faced by many French citizens and immigrants (which includes anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, anti-black and anti-Roma or any other forms of racism), through :
- Legal and judiciary actions in support of victims of racism under the Press Law (banning racism in the media and in the public sphere, on the internet…) as well as civil and penal proceedings, under the several times amended 1972-1990 law.
- The commitment of its activists to support all victims of discrimination and/or violent acts of racism; legal and judiciary actions in support of victims of direct and indirect forms of discriminations, as defined by international conventions, European Union directives, French anti-discriminatory legislation (passed since 2001), and by jurisprudence;
- The use of institutional mechanisms dedicated to the struggle against racism, discrimination and for human rights (National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, France’s Human Rights Defender, Codes of Good Conduct, Commissions for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities…);
- The struggle against racial discrimination as defined by Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Council of Europe, Rome, November 4th 1950);
• -Anti-racist educational initiatives in schools and in the wider community;
• -The struggle against racism in sports and in athletic organizations.
B- The struggle for Equal Rights and Active Citizenship for all members of French Society
MRAP supports French citizens from overseas regions and territories, asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants, undocumented immigrants, travellers, and Roma.
C- The struggle for world peace, in active solidarity with all peoples fighting for their rights
III- MRAP is principally engaged in a number of national and international partnerships:
a. A- National Networks
b. a. ANAFE - National Border Assistance Organization for Foreigners-ANAFE
c. b. OEE - The Observatory for the Imprisonment of Foreigners-
d. c. ODSE -The Observatory for Foreigners’ Right to Health
e. d. MOM - The “Overseas immigrants” Collective
f. e. The French Organization for the Right of Foreigners to Live with their Families
g. f. RESF - The Education without Borders Network
h. g. CFDA - The French Organization for the Right of Asylum-
i. h. The “Citizen Vote” Collective movements, aimed at securing voting rights for immigrants from the third world currently living in France
j. i. Collectives and Platforms for the legalization of undocumented immigrants…
Mention should also be made of MRAP’s efforts in support of the Right to History and the Recognition of Memory, specifically regarding slavery, the evils of colonialism, the massacres of 1945 in Algeria and of 1947-1948 in Madagascar, the use of torture during the Algerian independence war, the massacres of Algerians carried out by the French police in Paris on 17th October 1961…
a. B- International Networks
• - IMADR-International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism (MRAP currently holds the position of vice-presidency in the executive committee)
• - MIGREUROP and other networks against internment camps for immigrants and against the immigration policies of the EU and its member states
• - International Collective Actions:
• o For Peace in the Near East (Israel-Palestine)
• o Against the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan…
• o “Together, Save Mumia” and for the international abolition of the death penalty
• o Solidarity with all peoples struggling for democracy
• o Actions in conjunction with our partner organizations for disarmament, specifically nuclear disarmament, against weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, cluster bombs) specifically intended for use against civil populations
• o Actions for debt cancellation and for the establishment of cooperative and equitable Global North-South relations between countries
Paris, (February) April 2014