Lost amid blanket coverage of the Ukrainian crisis, this month’s rioting on the French administered island of Corsica has slipped under the radar for most.

Taking the form of intense street level actions by Corsican separatists, the trigger for the upheaval was the stabbing and subsequent death of famed Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna by a Cameroonian jihadist over the formers alleged disrespect to the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

An icon for Corsican separatists due to his role in the murder of top French official Claude Erignac and subseqeuent manhunt, Colonna was stabbed while imprisoned in Toulon on the 2nd of March this month.

Within a week the island, which nurtures a militant separatist tradition, witnessed extensive anti-Islamic tinged demonstrations aimed at symbols of French rule. Slipping into a coma before passing away 3 weeks later, allegations of state sponsored collusion and disrespect shown at Colonna’s funeral by French police have helped fuel the violence.

In particular Corsicans have taken exception to the fact that Colonna was left alone for some time with his murderer at a sports hall supposedly under 24 hour watch by prison wardens, with nationalists voicing accusations of state sponsored murder.

The initial round of rioting was followed by an announcement by Corsica’s erstwhile paramilitary group the National Liberation Front of Corsica that they would potentially recommence their armed campaign as a response.

Imagine if you would the murder of a senior H-Block hunger striker to conjure up the way in which this has gripped the public imagination on the island. Colonna was not just some random Corsican nationalist but The Corsican nationalist whose life story and even image provided the cultural backbone of the movement the past two decades.

Harbouring historic grievances with the centralised French state, support for independence lies at roughly 20-30% with separatist parties consistently getting stronger over the years.

Normally slow to concede to any demand for regionalism even the Paris government has been forced to consider giving the island greater powers of autonomy to help placate the mobs.

Not the first time the island has witnessed racially charged rioting, in 2015 Corsica experienced a minor anti-Islamic pogrom resulting in the burning of a local Islamic centre and street level fighting between Arabs and Cosican nationalists following an initial assault on local firefighters by Arabs.

Never quite reaching the incendiary heights of the Provisional campaign, Corsican nationalism is nevertheless a major headache for the Élysée government and is certainly without the marxist trappings found in Irish republicanism.

Corsica emerges from this dust up as a potential hotspot in any future conflict in the French Republic hosting a people and movement capable of defending its territorial and regional integrity.

With Western cameras facing East the events of the past month are a signifier of the likely impending destination of the entire French state in the years ahead.

Cover image by Argia.eu and used under Creative Commons

Posted by Ciaran Brennan

One Comment

  1. The recent assassination of the 61 year old leader of Corsican independence Yvan Colonna, while he was imprisoned in mainland France.
    Was a great shock to his family and fellow members of the Corsican independence group on the island.

    Yvan Colonna, should have been under 24 hour observation by French prison authorities.
    Yet a 35 year old man serving time, having been accused of terrorism and of being linked to jihadi groups.
    Somehow, managed to gain access to the very exercise yard being used by Colonna. What followed was an attack against the lone, and strangely unguarded and unsurpervised Corsican leader, resulting in his brain being denied oxygen, due to the attack.

    There are many differing accounts of the attack on Colonna, some sources claim it was a simple beating or a stabbing, others claim that the 35 year old jihadi quietly came up on Colonna as he exercised and coldly slipped a plastic bag over Colonna’s head, then proceeded to suffocate his victim with the plastic bag while also attempting strangulation.

    Strangulation, it should be noted is no quick process, it takes considerable time, strength and concentration.
    Equally, suffocation is no easy route, as the victim of course will do all to preserve their own life.
    Therefore, the Jihadi assailant had to be confident that the time required to carry out the assassination, was somehow almost guaranteed!.

    Mr. Colonna was eventually discovered & taken to hospital but almost 3 weeks later died, due to the attack upon him, having denied him the oxygen needed to keep complete function of his brain.

    His death, it’s claimed was the result of a comment Colonna made, which was considered blasphemous of the Prophet. However, this claim was later denied, when the murderer told other prisoners & prison officials that he murdered Colonna because of his fame, allowing the murder himself to become the most famous Jihadi in France.

    Mr. Colonna was the leader of the Corsican independence group of the island. He and other members have for decades been fighting for independence from France.

    Though Colonna was imprisoned for life for the alleged murder of a French appointed head of the island.
    He, his freedom group and his family have always denied these claims!.
    Collectively and repeatedly, they claimed that Paris had chosen the independence leader as the killer, in the hope that having Colonna imprisoned, might silence any further uprising of locals on the island of Corsica.

    The Murder of Mr. Colonna at the age of 61, has sent absolute shock waves right across the island of Corsica.
    In turn such shock lead to violent outbreaks and attacks in the streets of Corsica.

    Corsica has been the dumping ground of the French government, just as Lesbos became the dumping ground of the Greek government.
    Having taken in refugees from the middle East, the French government knew the political consequences of dumping such numbers on Paris, also considered was how such action in Paris, would or could lead to riots in the French capital.

    Therefore, as the Greek government allowed or purposely chose Lesbos as an alternative to absolute upheaval in Athens. The French government chose the already hostile island of Corsica as their preference to riots in Paris.

    The end result has been the ongoing battles in the streets of the island, between residents and refugees.
    Corsica, already a tinderbox, has now fully ignited as a direct result of the murder of Colonna.

    Leaving Paris with a real mess, with some of the political class, now considering that independence of Corsica may be the only answer.

    My respect and regards to the author.


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