Monday, February 23, 2009


I've often expressed the opinion that French TV can, at times, be incredibly good: a powerful medium in the hands of exceptionally talented creators with humanistic ideals. Admittedly, it's not like that all the time. You can find shit on French TV... but the ratio of good stuff to bad stuff is vastly superior in France to what I've seen elsewhere.

Last Friday evening, I watched a documentary by a French journalist, Daniel Grandclément, on the plight of children in Koranic "schools" in a village of Senegal named M'bour.

The documentary was so powerful, and some of the images were so terrifying, that I was left speechless... and I remain literally in that state. I simply don't know how to react in the face of those ugly images of young undernourished kids wincing in pain when they were whipped on the bare back and frail shoulders by a cruel adult guardian who uses this pedagogical method to inform the victim that he has made a mistake in his recitation of the Koran.

The children's misery is accentuated by the fact that they are poorly fed, dirty and dressed in rags, and they clearly don't get enough sleep.

The documentary certainly presented clearly the frightening conditions in which these poor kids are surviving. Maybe powerful TV messages of this kind can give rise to miracles. In any case, nothing short of a miracle could righten the terrible wrongs of M'bour, and attenuate the children's suffering.

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