The measure is the result of a “security and visa problem,” according to government minister Rima Abdul Malak
The French government has ordered the nation’s performing arts industry to halt all collaboration with former colonies Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, Le Monde reported on Thursday, citing a letter from the General Directorates for Cultural Affairs (DRAC). All three countries are currently under military rule.
The directive, which came from the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, instructed the suspension of financial assistance to cultural institutions and individual artists in the three West African nations, the DRAC said, according to the outlet.
“All cooperation projects that are carried out by your establishments or your services with institutions or nationals of these three countries must be suspended, without delay, and without any exception,” the letter stated.
“Likewise, no invitation from any national of these countries should be issued… until further notice,” it added.
The Paris-based National Union of Artistic and Cultural Enterprises (Syndeac) confirmed on Thursday that it had received a letter “with a threatening tone” asking its members to halt all collaboration with the African nations until further notice.
“The decision to suspend all artistic cooperation with Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso is seen as an unprecedented measure, which raises major questions regarding international cultural policy,” the union stated.
Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak told the RTL broadcaster on Friday that France was not banning African artists, but claimed that the “extremely deteriorated” security situations in the three countries in question had necessitated the action.
“France had to minimize its staff in embassies and consulates and close visa services. So physically, it is impossible to deliver visas to artists and any individual coming from those countries to France,” Malak said.
Niger’s new military rulers, who took power following a coup in July, announced last month that they had revoked French Ambassador Sylvain Itte’s diplomatic immunity and ordered police to deport him after a previous deadline to leave had expired.
Niamey’s relations with the French government have been strained since the coup that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. Similarly, anti-French sentiments have grown in Burkina Faso and Mali, where the military took power in 2022 and 2020, respectively.
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