Friday, 24 August 2007

African Woman Sets Herself on Fire to Protest Racism


By Real Rap Talk

The horrifying sight which traumatized shoppers and office workers in the centre of Luxembourg City last week has now been labelled as a protest against racism. The Belgian woman of Congolese origin who set herself alight in the middle of Place d’Armes told witnesses that she was doing it to protest against racism, moments before she carried out the desperate act which has left her in hospital fighting for her life.

Maggy Delvaux-Mufu, a mother of three in her forties, alerted several national newspapers late on Tuesday morning last week that she would be burning herself alive on place des Martyrs at 12.45 am, before setting out accompanied by her husband to walk through the centre of town to her macabre rendezvous. The police were alerted and officers were deployed to the Rousegärtchen.

But the w
oman changed her plan when she came across a group of journalists gathered to cover an event organised by the ‘Mouvement écologique’ on Place d’Armes, opposite the Cercle municipal. She soaked herself in petrol before confronting the members of the press, announcing that she was about to sacrifice her life to protest against racism. Moments later, she struck a match, turning herself into a human torch in front of hundreds of people.

Delvaux-Mufu’s husband and passers-by jumped on the burning body, attempting to stifle the flames with coats and jackets. The scene made several people feel unwell and many witnesses who filled the square at lunchtime were traumatised by the woman’s shrieking screams of unimaginable pain. The flames were already extinguished when police, rescue services and the fire brigade arrived at the scene. One person is reported to have vomited after seeing the woman being transported into an ambulance. The events in Place d’Armes have also started a controversy regarding the authorities’ lack of psychological support for witnesses.

Delvaux-Mufu was taken to the Bon Secours hospital in Metz, where she is being treated in a specialised ward for burns and is fighting for her life. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited the woman and her family at the hospital last week.

RTL television was the first to run a news flash about the incident on its website on Tuesday afternoon last week. 352 reported the bulletin in its news in brief section, shortly before going to print. Events preceding the incident only came to light later on in the week.

The 42-year-old Belgian citizen and her husband had been facing financial difficulties. They had recently indebted themselves by buying a Citroën garage in Oberwampach, before realising they were missing the documents that would allow them to set up a business. Delvaux-Mufu wrote a letter to Le Jeudi recounting her story of bureaucratic difficulties and economic despair. “I’m against all forms of violence, but day after day, my family and I have to endure moral violence, discrimination, insults and much more from Mr Juncker’s administration”, she said in the letter published last week.

Money problems had driven the woman to desperately plead her case at the Prime minister’s office early on the same day of the incident. Her threat to burn herself alive on Place des Martyrs after being turned away by the authorities caused government officials to contact the police. A city-wide search was organised, but nobody could foresee the woman would change her plans."

3 comments:

moaluko said...

That is one of the worst things I have ever seen --- my goodness. Any update of her status?

hakeem said...

Hi Moaluko,
I haven't got any update on her status. I'd let you know as soon as I have something about her. It's depressing. Isn't it?
take care
hakeem

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