French students strike as one of their own sets self ablaze

Anas K. set himself ablaze in protest of the government cutting down his grants. French students took to the street in a show of solidarity with the student. They expressed anger in the tough economic situation they are currently in.

University students across France took to the streets to demonstrate what they term as government neglection of their needs. This comes after a student in Lyon set himself on fire in protest of his €450 grant withdrawal.

The 22-year-old doused himself in petrol and set himself ablaze in Lyon last Friday. He survived but is still in critical condition. He has since been identified as Anas K.

French students frustration

Many students, although agreed that the measures taken by Anas, were extreme, agreed with his cause. They complained that the government was taking away their only source of support. This was leaving many with virtually no means to support themselves. They had to rely on parents, working menial jobs and trying to balance that with their education life.

Most students interviewed during these demonstrations expressed their frustration with the system. Ashwin, a 23-year-old film studies student at the Sorbonne University in Paris, for instance, indicated that he receives the €450 but is not enough. He indicated that his rent is €600 for a studio. This means that the stipend cannot even afford him a house in the city.

He highlighted some of the struggles he goes through, including trying to balance school life and work life. He indicated that working was a must for him to survive. He also admitted that sometimes he requests help from his parents.

Anas accused President Emmanuel Macron, his two predecessors, Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, for ‘killing him’ during the protest that ended by him burning. He chose to set himself ablaze outside the school hall as he noted it had a higher political significance.

Anas wrote,

Let’s fight the rise of fascism, which only divides us… and liberalism that creates inequalities.

President Macron, through spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye, deplored the actions taken by the student as a ‘tragic’ gesture. He also sent out his ‘empathy and compassion’ to the student. Ndiaye, however, noted that nothing could justify the vandalism committed during the demonstrations.


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