While the third installment in his Taken franchise was taking over the box office this weekend, prolific writer, director, producer, and studio founder Luc Besson spent time penning an impassioned open letter (read it below) to and for France’s Muslim youth in the wake of the deadly events in Paris last week. In a missive published in Le Monde, Besson called on “the powerful, the big bosses and all leaders” to “help this youth that has been humiliated and which asks only to be part of society.” Addressing an anonymous “brother,” Besson says, “You also have a job to do. How can you change this society that’s being offered to you? By working, by studying, by taking up a pencil rather than a Kalishnikov. … It costs €250 to buy a Kalishnikov but not even €3 to buy a pen — and your response can have a thousand times more impact.” He further intones, “If those who are presumed guilty of this tragedy really are, know that these two blood-spilling brothers are not yours, and we all know it.”
Besson has been recognized for his social engagement in the past; his Cité du Cinéma studios are built in a suburb of Paris that has a large immigrant population and suffers from high levels of unemployment. The letter has been warmly received in France. Below is the full text translated from French:
My brother, if you knew how badly I hurt for you today, you and your beautiful religion that has been so sullied, humilated, and singled out. Forgotten are your strength, your energy, your humor, your heart, your fraternity. It’s unfair and together we will repair this injustice. We are millions who love you and who are going to help you. Let’s start at the beginning. What is the society we’re offering you today?
It’s based on money, profit, segregation and racism. In some suburbs, unemployment for people under 25 is 50%. You are marginalized because of your color or your first name. You’re questioned 10 times a day, you’re crowded into apartment blocks and no one represents you. Who could live and thrive under such conditions?
Profit comes before all else. We cut and sell the apple tree’s branches and then are shocked there’s no fruit. The real problem is there, and that’s for all of us to resolve.
I call on the powerful, the big bosses and all leaders. Help this youth that has been humiliated and which asks only to be part of society. The economy is in the service of man and not the reverse. To do good is the greatest of profits. Dear powerful, do you have children? Do you love them? What do you want to leave them? Money? Why not a world that’s more fair? That would make your children the most proud of you.
We cannot build our happiness on the misfortune of others. It is neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. It is just selfish and it leads our society and our planet straight into a wall. This is the work we have to do beginning today to honor our dead.
Terrorism will never win.
And you, my brother, you also have a job to do. How can you change this society that’s being offered to you? By working, by studying, by taking up a pencil rather than a kalishnikov. That’s what’s good about democracy, it offers you the noble tools to defend yourself. Take your destiny in hand, take the power. It costs 250 euros to buy a kalishnikov but not even three euros to buy a pen — and your response can have a thousand times more impact. Take the power, and play by the rules.
Take power democratically, helped by all your brothers. Terrorism will never win. History is there to prove it. And the beautiful image of the martyr walking in both directions. Today there are a thousand (assasinated Charlie Hebdo journalists) Cabus and Wolinskis who have just been born.
Take the power and don’t let anyone take power over you. If those who are presumed guilty of this tragedy really are, know that these two blood-spilling brothers are not yours, and we all know it.
It would at most be two weak-minded individuals, abandoned by society and then abused by a preacher who sold them eternity… Radical preachers who play on and make your misfortune their business have no good intentions. They use your religion only to their advantage. It is their business, their small business. Tomorrow, my brother, we will be stronger, more connected, closer. I promise you. But today, my brother, I cry with you.