It’s always good to know a foreign language, but French was taught in Lebanon schools; a colonial system.1 That means it was taught against the Arabic language. They indirectly gave us the feeling that everything French was superior to everything else. And this, in my case, and in many cases, although not everybody complains about that, but I think it had many negative, difficult sides.
For example, in my home, we were three people. I was the only child. By going to an exclusively French school, Arabic was forbidden. My references were French and alien to my environment. I knew by heart the French mountains, the French rivers, cities, and I didn’t know what was going on in tiny Lebanon. And we didn’t have a common denominator of experience. My father’s world was one, my mother’s world was one, and mine was becoming one.
So, we didn’t analyze that. I was not aware. We never spoke about these things. But much later, I realized that we were strangers to each other, because languages reveal your personality.2 You teach exclusively French, and you’ll make a French person. And this is a problem, because even today they make — the French, make a big effort to push the French language in Lebanon. But if people are partially French, what does it mean to be French, it’s your worldview, your language. And then they don’t get visas, they can’t all come back to France.
So, this explains the immigration problem to a large degree. People from French Africa are geared to come to Paris. People who grow up in Kenya or India, come to England, or Iraq, because Iraq was under English rule. So, in one way these countries cannot absorb all the immigrants. On the other hand, they give their culture to these people, so these people are eager, consciously or unconsciously, to come to the place that they heard about, and they speak the language. You’re not just speaking, it’s what language carries, the thoughts, the geography, the history, and then they feel alienated in their own countries.