Tensions in France, so ID papers a must for Singaporean student

Ms Deepika Shanmuga Sundaram, who is studying in France, has started carrying her passport and residency documents even for short trips to the grocery store.
Ms Deepika Shanmuga Sundaram, who is studying in France, has started carrying her passport and residency documents even for short trips to the grocery store.PHOTO: COURTESY OF DEEPIKA SHANMUGA SUNDARAM

Ms Deepika Shanmuga Sundaram, who is studying in France, has started carrying her passport and residency documents everywhere, even for short trips to the grocery store.

The 20-year-old, a political science student at the Menton campus of Sciences Po Paris, said she started to do so as the worsening Covid-19 situation in France has brought racial and religious tensions to the fore.

"Because Menton sits on the border between France and Italy, the Covid-19 situation has made residents more wary of refugees who are suspected of carrying the virus," she added.

She said a friend, a Pakistani American who did not have his passport on hand, had been stopped and almost detained near the train station in Ventimiglia, Italy, one stop away from Menton.

"It's harder for persons of colour like myself," said the Indian Singaporean.

It has not helped that as France entered its second lockdown on Friday, there was a knife attack which saw one woman beheaded and two killed at the Notre Dame church in Nice. A 21-year-old Tunisian national is said to have committed the crime.

With Nice only about 40 minutes by train from where she lives, Ms Deepika said: "The fact that I was near, and I've walked past the church... is terrifying."

Jessie Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2020, with the headline 'Tensions in France, so ID papers a must'. Print Edition | Subscribe