Besides the description provided by UGC lille,
“1991. Omar Raddad est emprisonné pour le meurtre de Madame Marchal qui l'employait comme jardinier. Trois ans plus tard, un écrivain convaincu de son innocence décide de mener sa propre enquête. Les destins croisés de deux hommes que tout oppose."
I knew nothing about the Omar Raddad Affair, which was a very big deal in the 90s in France.
Long story short, a rich French woman was found murdered, locked in her pitch black basement. On the walls “Omar M’a Tuer” and “Omar M’a T" were written in her blood.
The police believed she had written this on the walls herself with her dying strength (in the absolute dark without making any mistakes..) and so they went to arrest Omar Raddad, her gardener, who is Moroccan. Despite the only evidence to implicate him being what is written on the walls, he is found guilty and is sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Three years later, Jacques Verges, a French writer, believing Omar to be innocent decides to investigate the crime himself. He then writes a book entitled Omar M’a Tuer: Histoire d’un crime. In his book, he basically shows how the judicial system screwed over Omar and brings to light new suspects.
In the end, then President Jacques Chirac reduces Omar’s sentence. In 1998, he is let out of jail after six and a half years spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In 2001 they did DNA testing, and although they found two distinct sets of male DNA at the scene of the crime, Omar was not a match.
The Movie Trailer. It was a good movie and I recommend seeing it!
This movie made me terrified of the French judicial system.
I know America has probably sent its fair share of innocent people to jail for crimes they didn’t commit, but Omar was treated thusly for one simple reason: He is not French. He is Moroccan. He is a foreigner.
I think the hardest scene for me to watch was when they interrogate him after arresting him.
Despite saying several times that he does not speak French, they continue to yell at and harass him in French, accusing him of murdering his boss. After having photos of the murder shoved under his nose, he starts to understand what’s going on, but is unable to express himself in French.
Sometimes I forget my French words when I’m nervous because I’m meeting someone new. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to try and communicate in French while the police are yelling at me in super speedy French while shoving pictures of murdered people under my nose. Plus, based on the movie's portrayal of him, I speak way better French than Omar.
It made me cringe to watch him treated that way. I spent most of the film cringing, actually.
The law has since changed. Now it is required that anyone being detained by the police get read their rights in a language they understand.
One thing that I find very interesting is that my French friends do not understand my fear. They all make the joke that since I’m not Arabic, I wont have these same types of problems.
While I realize there is a lot of racism towards Arabic people in France, there is also racism towards foreigners in general. A fellow American expat blogger living in Lille, Traveling Amber, has been dealing with racism towards American foreigners for a while now.
I am realistic and know that it is unlikely that I will be framed for murder, and put in jail with little to no evidence against me, but this film really opened my eyes to the differences between how I could expect to be treated by the American justice system as an American citizen, and how I could expect to be treated in France as a foreigner.
On the bright side, the movie was really well done; intriguing, thought provoking, and full of great characters. It was definitely worth those 3euros.
What do you think about the Omar Raddad Affair? Do you find it shocking at all? Is the French judicial system something to be afraid of? I'd love to hear how you feel about it.