Viral Cantona video spurs bid to destroy global banking
A call by ex-footballer Eric Cantona to bring down French banks through mass withdrawals was on Tuesday propelled via the Internet into a global bid to end the "corrupt, criminal" banking system.
The occasionally philosophical Cantona first made the suggestion to unions in October as millions took to streets in France to protest extending the retirement age in a series of ultimately futile protests.
"What is the system?" Cantona reflected in a video interview with French newspaper Presse Ocean. "It revolves around the banks, the system is built on the power of the banks, so it can be destroyed through the banks."
"The three million people in the street, they go to the bank, withdraw their money, and the banks collapse... That's a real threat, there's a real revolution," he said in the video that has gone viral on the web.
"No weapons, no blood, nothing at all. It's not complicated. Then we'll be listened to in a different way," said the former Manchester United player famed for kung-fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan because of a racist insult.
The suggestion was then highlighted by "civic activists" Geraldine Feuillien and Yann Sarfati, a Belgian screenwriter and French director who named December 7 the global banking system's day of reckoning and set up www.bankrun2010.com.
"We had the idea before, but no one listened to us, because we're no one," Feuillien told AFP.
"Then we saw that the Cantona video was creating a buzz and the reactions showed that it was something people wanted, so we said we'll launch the event, without knowing what the result would be."
She says that since setting up the French site and doing an English version herself, people have spontaneously offered translations in Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese "and others will probably follow as well."
With two weeks to go until the day of protest, 17 countries are involved, including much of Europe as well as the United States, Feuillien said, with thousands of followers on social networking site Facebook.
"This is a demand that isn't just French, it's worldwide," she said.
"It will be marvellous, finally we can rebuild a different banking system, without bubbles, which are made to burst one day," she said in response to a question about the protest's possible outcome.
"It's against a corrupt, criminal and deadly system that we decided to oppose," says the website.
"The only thing the public really understands is that most major financial crimes and insider trading remain mostly unpunished but they are the first to pay the consequences.
Bankers "write to us in private, saying I work in finance, I'm a banker, we fully support you, you understand I can't put my name down, but this system absolutely has to end and be replaced with another," Feuillien said.
Asked about concerns that people's savings might be swallowed up by collapsing banks, she said that "then they should hurry up and withdraw them."
"In any case, the banks don't need us to collapse, they're so irresponsible, doing whatever," she said.
"We're doing it on the 7th so people have time to receive their salary and pay the bills, then they have a few tens, hundreds of euros to last the month, it's not a lot of money."
"If you do have lots of money then you can buy gold or silver coins. Anyway, what else is there to lose? We're at such a point of nonsense, we can't continue doing nothing, its not possible."
Thousands of people have joined international Facebook pages in support of the action, including over 12,000 in France, although many people's comments point out that in these hard times they don't have any money left to withdraw.
"Cannot see the sense in destroying one system without having a better one ready to launch," said one Facebook commentator.
"The world could end up in a worse state than the current. Build something rather than destroying something."
French banks contacted by AFP declined to comment on their readiness to deal with the protest.
© 2010 AFP