At a time when France has received global condemnation over its Separatism Bill, which is currently under discussion in the National Assembly, and its growing state-sponsored show of Islamophobia, Bourika’s selfless act of kindness and charity is even more poignant.
Image Credit: Anadolu Agency
As France continues to struggle under the strains of the global pandemic, one Muslim-owned restaurant has decided to offer free meals to students in financial difficulty – many of whom have been struggling to feed themselves. According to Oxfam, France’s Covid financial bailouts and programs have done little to help – and the country’s handling of national lockdowns have reportedly sent millions into poverty.
But in order to help combat this, Brahim Bourika, who owns the restaurant Etoile de Fes, has been handing out free meals to struggling students. The 28-year-old restaurant owner, who is of Moroccan origin, worked at his father’s sandwich shop until 2017 when he opened up his own business. He stated that “when I opened this restaurant, I promised Allah not to let anyone go hungry.”
Bourika explains that many students around France are now currently deeply in debt amidst the global pandemic, and with a lack of jobs and part-time work that would have helped supplement their school fees or their families, many students in France are now going hungry.
Explaining that his doors will remain open to anyone who cannot afford a meal, Bourika stresses his concern that serious cases of poverty are occurring in France without much outrage:
France is the 6th economic power in the world. How are things possible in a country like this? These young students who work for France are condemned to starve to death. That’s not normal.”
At a time when France has received global condemnation over its Separatism Bill, which is currently under discussion in the National Assembly, and its growing state-sponsored show of Islamophobia, Bourika’s selfless act of kindness and charity is even more poignant. As news of his act of charity spread, many have even tried to send donations to his restaurant – but Bourika has refused all money donations, stating that while he was eternally grateful, by accepting these donations his act would lose all meaning and that “I am doing this for Allah”.
Speaking as well on France’s continued stance on Muslims within the country, Bourika hopes that many will see past the Islamophobic headlines and discriminatory bills and instead see French Muslims for who they really are. He explains:
If you are a Muslim, Islam asks you to help people anyways France is also our country – we are not the enemies of France, and [our] leaders should not see us like this. In my eyes, everyone is equal, and I don’t see if the person is Muslim, Christian, Black, Chinese, or other. Our restaurant doors remain open to everyone.”
As France, led by President Macron’s growing Islamophobic stance, continues to struggle under both the global pandemic and issues around secularism and freedom of expression, it is clear that the selfless act of restaurant owner Brahim Bourika is a timely example of what just might be the true meaning behind “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”.