The five plaintiffs grew up together in a Catholic school in Katende, in what is the province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Ms. Tavares Mujinga, one of the plaintiffs, said she and her fellow students lived like prisoners, with insufficient clothing and food. In letters sent to the regional authorities in the early 1950s and seen by The New York Times, the nuns warned about a lack of food, and the insalubrious dormitory and canteen.

Ms. Tavares Mujinga said a scar on her forehead comes from a nun who hit her when she was 5, and that the scars on her legs are from ulcers she got from malnutrition. But the deepest scars are psychological, she said. When Ms. Tavares Mujinga came back to her family as a teenager, her mother told her she had been forced to abandon her to avoid reprisals from the authorities.

Following Congo’s independence in 1960, some of the youngest children were abandoned to a militant group after the nuns left the area. Many of the girls were raped, according to Ms. Bintu Bingi.

“These are not stories you can tell your children,” Ms. Bintu Bingi said in an interview as she recalled how she opened up to her daughter in recent years. “The Belgian state destroyed us, psychologically and physically.”

The women moved to Belgium in the 1980s and later and all live there, except for one who moved to France.

Some legal experts are divided on whether the forced separation of the mixed-race children from their mothers amounts to crimes against humanity. Ms. Hirsch, the plaintiff’s lawyer, argued that it did, because Belgium state had tried to wipe out the civil existence of métis children.

Emmanuel Jacubowitz, a lawyer representing the Belgian state at the hearing, said the authorities didn’t deny that the policy was racist and segregationist, but that it wasn’t seen as violating fundamental rights at the time.

Eric David, a professor of international law at the University of Brussels, said it was a stretch to call the practice crimes against humanity. “There was deportation, detention, and what could amount to torture,” Mr. David said. “But there were no slavery, murder, or systemic rapes in those schools.”

Mr. Jacubowitz added that hundreds of similar requests for compensation could follow.

“It may be that Belgium’s fear is to open the tap for reparations,” said Ms. Lauwers, the archivist.

Déborah Mbongu, the granddaughter of Ms. Tavares, said she struggled to understand why Belgium was so reluctant to pay. The plaintiffs say they didn’t sue for money, but Ms. Mbongu, 23, said it was essential her grandmother and others were recognized as victims.

“For our shared history,” she said, “a crime must lead to reparations. It’s just fundamental.”

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The Mayor, the Teacher and a Fight over a ‘Lost Territory’ of France

TRAPPES, France — It all began when a high-school teacher warned that Islamists had taken over the city. The teacher went on TV, issuing alarms from inside what he called a “lost city” of the French Republic. In Trappes, he said, he feared for his life.

“Trappes, it’s finished,” the teacher said. “They’ve won.”

The mayor, a strong believer in the Republic, saw the teacher on television and didn’t recognize the city he described. He knew his city, west of Paris and with a growing population of immigrants and Muslims, had problems but thought it was being falsely maligned. The mayor also happened to be a Muslim.

“The truth doesn’t matter anymore,” he said.

For a few weeks this winter, the fight pitting the mayor, Ali Rabeh, 36, against the teacher, Didier Lemaire, 55, became a media storm that, beneath the noise and accusations, boiled down to a single, angry question that runs through the culture wars rippling through France: Can Islam be compatible with the principles of the French Republic?

Lupin.” But Trappes also saw about 70 of its youths leave for jihad to Syria and Iraq, the largest contingent, per capita, from any French city.

article about Mr. Lemaire, who said he was quitting because of Islamists.

Within a few hours, a conservative politician eyeing the presidency tweeted her support for Mr. Lemaire and “all those hussars on the front line in the fight for the Republic.” Next, the far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, attacked “certain elected officials” for failing to protect the teacher from Islamists.

That the words of a virtually unknown teacher resonated so much was a sign of the times. A few months earlier, an extremist had beheaded a middle-school teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech. President Emmanuel Macron was now pushing a bill to fight Islamism even as he pledged to nurture an “Islam of France.”

Mr. Lemaire’s words also resonated because of the outsized role in France of public schoolteachers, who are responsible for inculcating in the young the nation’s political values and culture. In the Republic’s mythology, teachers are the “hussars” — the light cavalry once used for scouting by European armies — fighting to preserve the nation’s sanctity.

In the article, Mr. Lemaire said he had been under police escort for months. Trappes’s mayor, he said, had called him an “Islamophobe and racist.” He said he was waiting for an “exfiltration” from deep inside “a city lost for good.”

Overnight, the soft-spoken, longhaired teacher, who said he preferred curling up with Seneca than going on Facebook, was issuing dire warnings on top television news shows.

“We have six months to a year,” he said, “because all these youths who are educated with the idea that the French are their enemies, they’ll take action one day.”

Mr. Lemaire arrived in Trappes, a banlieue, or suburb, in the outer orbit of Paris, two decades earlier. Once a village that grew around a millennium-old Roman Catholic parish, Trappes is now a city of 32,000.

Mr. Lemaire’s high school, La Plaine-de-Neauphle, stands at the heart of an area built to accommodate immigrant workers from France’s former colonies in the 1970s — a mixture of rent-subsidized high-rises, attractive five-story residences and a constellation of parks. The mosque is nearby. So is a market where vendors offer delicacies from sub-Saharan Africa and halal products.

Parti républicain solidariste, which espouses a hard line on France’s version of secularism, called laïcité. He now favors taking girls away from their parents, after a second warning, if the children violate laïcité rules by putting on Muslim veils during school field trips.

“We have to protect children from this manipulation,” of being used “as soldiers or as ideologues,” he said.

remarks to the newspaper Le Monde, the local préfet, the top civil servant representing the central government, praised Mr. Rabeh’s administration for its “total cooperation” in combating Islamism. The préfet also refuted the teacher’s claim to having been under a police escort.

The teacher’s story began wobbling. He admitted to the French news media, as he did to The Times, that he had “not received explicit death threats.” He had also accused the mayor of calling him a “racist and Islamophobe” in an interview with a Dutch television network.

But the network denied the mayor had said any such thing.

letter to the students at the teacher’s high school.

“Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you’re worth nothing and that you’re lost to the Republic,” he wrote.

debate was scheduled that evening between Ms. Le Pen and Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister leading the government’s crackdown on Islamism. Hours before the debate, he announced that the teacher would be granted police protection.

That evening, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the national education minister, issued a statement supporting the teacher. He also accused the mayor of trespassing into the high school to distribute tracts — the letter — that morning. “Political and religious neutrality is at the heart of the operation of the School of the Republic,” the minister said.

The city officials at the school that morning told The Times that no copies were distributed inside. The regional education office and Mr. Blanquer’s office refused to make the school principal available for an interview. The minister’s office declined to comment.

The trespassing accusations led to such an avalanche of threats against the mayor that he, too, was put under police protection — a shared destiny, for a while, for the two men of Trappes, who had each lost something.

The teacher was forced to leave the school where he had taught for 20 years and, despite his criticisms of Trappes, said “you really feel you’re on a mission.” He said he should have been more careful with the facts and had made “many mistakes,” but stuck by his interpretation of Trappes as “lost.”

His words, he said, had led to a “clarification of positions today in France.”

The mayor questioned the very Republic that once inspired him. He had believed that “the people who embody the Republic will come, the government will eventually express its solidarity with me.”

“Stunned,” he said, “I find that’s not the case.”

He declined his worried father’s request to resign.

“For a moment during the crisis, I told myself, well, if this is the Republic, I’m abandoning the Republic, just as it’s abandoned me,” Mr. Rabeh said. “But the truth is they’re not the Republic. The kids of Trappes are the Republic.”

Gaëlle Fournier contributed research.

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A Self-Styled ‘Troublemaker’ Creates a Different Paris Museum

PARIS — François Pinault, the French billionaire, has never had much time for convention. “Avoid the paths already trodden,” has been his motto. Bored with acquiring Impressionist or Cubist works with surefire credentials, he said to himself four decades ago: “It’s impossible that we have become so stupid today that there are no human beings alive capable of creating tomorrow’s masterpieces.”

The fruits of that conviction are now on display in a contemporary art museum that opened in Paris on Saturday under the cupola of the Bourse de Commerce. With the Louvre to one side and the Pompidou Center to the other, this upstart in the cultural life of Paris combines tradition and modernity.

Once a grain exchange, the light-filled building has undergone a $170 million redevelopment conceived by the Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who previously worked with Pinault at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Ando installed a 108-foot-diameter concrete cylinder inside the central rotunda, creating a core display area while retaining the framework of the original.

“A palimpsest of French history,” as Martin Bethenod, the museum’s director, put it.

No layer of the palimpsest has been concealed. Restored 19th-century frescoes beneath the dome illustrate the global commerce of the time. Titled “Triumphal France,” they amount to a primer in the demeaning stereotypes of a Eurocentric colonized world where white traders did business with bare-chested African warriors.

The juxtaposition with the many works in the galleries below by Black American artists, including David Hammons and Kerry James Marshall, is potent. Their pieces, driven by reflection on the grotesqueness and lasting wounds of racism, seem charged by the setting.

Transience is a theme. Nothing lasts, yet nothing is entirely gone. At the center of the museum’s initial exhibition stands a wax replica of the 16th-century Giambologna statue “The Abduction of the Sabine Women,” three writhing figures intertwined. Created by the Swiss artist Urs Fischer, it was set alight at the museum’s opening on Saturday and will burn for six months, leaving nothing behind.

So a high mannerist masterpiece becomes an elaborate giant candle: Sic transit gloria mundi. The Bourse de Commerce itself has been rented from Paris City Hall on a 50-year lease — a reminder that the museum’s life span may not be eternal. Ando’s cylinder is designed so that it can be removed once the lease expires.

Pinault, 84, a self-styled “troublemaker,” has always been more interested in disruption than permanence.

Born in rural Brittany, he went on to parlay a small timber business into a $42 billion diversified luxury-goods conglomerate, including brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent. I asked him about time passing. “Well, I am like everyone: As you grow older, that issue gnaws at you a little, but I am not obsessed by the time that may be left to me,” he said in an interview. “I hope it will be as long as possible.”

How, he asked, can anyone take himself for important, confronted by the sweep of history? “Humility must be worked on with a pumice stone every day,” he said. “The ego is something that grows if you don’t apply weed killer.”

Behind him in his office at the Bourse de Commerce hangs “SEPT.13, 2001,” a work in black and white by the Japanese artist On Kawara. It is a reminder that the unimaginable can happen — that as Victor Hugo put it, “Nothing is more imminent than the impossible.” Yet life continues nonetheless.

For Pinault, the project represents a long-held ambition to house some of his more than 10,000 works by artists including Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Marlene Dumas in a Paris museum. That effort began about 20 years ago with plans, later aborted, to take over a disused Renault car factory in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Although Sherman’s work is on prominent display — including a haunting photograph of a platinum-blonde woman, back turned, standing on a deserted American highway with her suitcase beside her in a shadowy half-light — the exhibition does not dwell on the giants of the Pinault Collection, as if the main aim were to jolt Parisians emerging from months of coronavirus lockdown with an injection of the new and little known in France.

Pinault said he had met David Hammons, a generally reclusive artist who came of age in the 1960s and ’70s, more than 30 years ago. Hammons learned that Pinault was the uneducated son of a peasant from a small Breton village. “He said we were alike, and I burst out laughing and told him, ‘Well, not exactly!’”

So was an unlikely friendship born. Its fruit is the more than 25 Hammons works on show at the Bourse de Commerce.

But what of those murals glorifying European colonization, with Christopher Columbus sweeping down from the sky in a caravel to find half-naked Native Americans? “We were convinced for a long time that we constituted civilization, the most evolved people,” Pinault said. “I never accepted that.” In the frescoes, he added, was “the beginning of global commerce, but dominated by Europe and France” — in short, “everything that a David Hammons detests.”

When the artist was shown a video of the frescoes, and giant antique maps tracing post-slavery trade routes dominated by European navies, he asked that his “Minimum Security” installation, inspired by a visit to death row at San Quentin State Prison, be placed against this backdrop. The squeaking and clanging of a cell door seems to carry the echo of centuries of oppression.

“Some will criticize us and say it’s shameful,” Pinault said. “We could have hidden the fresco — you can always hide something, that is cancel culture. And here, a great African-American artist said, ‘Don’t hide it.’”

Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the Pinault Collection’s chief executive, said: “When you show it, that does not mean you approve it. This was the image of trade at that moment, and you can’t think yesterday with the mind of today.”

Art is provocation. With almost Duchamp-like playfulness, Hammons challenges the viewer to think again, as with “Rubber Dread,” deflated inner tubes woven into dreadlocks. He reimagines detritus.

Kerry James Marshall, another Black artist whom Pinault has collected for years, seems to upend a whole Western tradition — Goya’s “Maya” or Manet’s “Olympia,” — with an untitled painting of a Black man, naked but for his socks, lying on a bed with a sidelong gaze, a Pan-African flag coyly covering his genitals.

Pinault said that his museum would not add much to Paris, but perhaps as a private institution it could move faster while the committees at state-owned museums pondered. “So perhaps you have a collection of things that would not otherwise be here.” Perhaps, yes. He was being modest.

He described himself as a restless nonconformist: “My roots are under the soles of my shoes.” When life presents something important enough to entice you into a journey, he suggested, “you have to take your suitcase, like that woman beside the road in the Cindy Sherman photograph — my favorite.”

He was 19 when he left Brittany for the first time and came to Paris. He enlisted in the army and went to Algeria, where war was raging. It was 1956. A parachutist, he was ordered to comb through villages looking for Algerian rebels fighting French colonial dominion. But the rebels were long gone; all that was left were houses full of women, children and older people. Pinault said he confronted his officer: “What the hell are we doing here? This war is already lost.”

“Shut up, Pinault,” he recalled the officer saying.

But he never has shut up. Instead, Pinault has made a fortune, a unique collection of contemporary art and a life out of anticipation. “Only anticipate” could be another of his mottos. As a result, Paris, sometimes a little set in its ways, has something different, disruptive and challenging on offer at the Bourse de Commerce.

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What is Australian Food? A New Cookbook Provides Some Answers.

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What is Australian food? Is there even such a thing? These are questions I’ve been asked so many times, and I admit to finding them incredibly frustrating. It doesn’t help that the answers are not simple ones.

This week in the United States, Phaidon released a 432-page answer in the form of “Australia: The Cookbook” ($49.95, 65 Australian dollars) by chef and cookbook author Ross Dobson. The book was released in Australia on March 30 and it goes a long way toward clarifying the definition of Australian food, for both an international audience and Australians themselves.

Indeed, if (or, more certainly, when) I’m asked that question again, I may point the questioner to the first two chapters of the book, the first titled ‘A brief introduction to Australian cuisine,’ and the second is an essay on Indigenous food by Jody H. Orcher, an Ularai Barkandji woman and director of Wariku Bushfood Infusions.

In the first chapter, Dobson goes into great detail chronicling the three main periods of Australian food: the tens of thousands of years before colonization; the 150-or-so years in which Anglo colonists mainly cooked to satisfy a craving for the foods of England; and the period since the 1950s, when immigration has vastly changed the way Australians eat.

restaurant in Sydney, Lankan Filling Station, I reviewed in 2019).

The conversation, which you can still watch online, covered many questions that I have been grappling with for years, in particular: what is the meaning of the term “authenticity” in a country like Australia? Carey, who’s mother is Sri Lankan, talked about cooking Sri Lankan food at her current restaurant. While it’s the first time in her career she’s felt her food is authentic to her own life and experience, it’s also the first time she has been subject to criticism over the so-called authenticity (or lack thereof) of her food.

nytaustralia@nytimes.com.

Now on to this week’s stories:


NYTAustralia@nytimes.com.

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Jane Austen Museum to Address Ties to Slavery

Austen’s novels are about a narrow, upper class of British society and are set in picturesque villages, mostly cut off from the troubles of the outside world. “Jane Austen is now on a pedestal as an expression of something delightful, comforting, beautiful, clever,” said Paula Marantz Cohen, an English professor and the dean of the honor’s college at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Many of her fans, she said, want to relish her stories about a simpler time and place.

Some Austen scholars say passages in her novels “Emma” and “Mansfield Park” suggested that she supported abolitionism, but others say that is unclear. Few of her letters survived. But her favorite authors — Samuel Johnson, Thomas Clarkson and William Cowper — were abolitionists. Still, like almost all English families of any means in the 18th century, her family had ties to the slave trade, according to “Jane Austen: A Life,” a book by Claire Tomalin.

In addressing the topic of slavery, Sherard Cowper Coles, the president of the Jane Austen Society, said, “This is England’s story, and as our understanding increases, we should tell it and update it.”

But Mr. Cowper Coles, a former diplomat who was Britain’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009-10, cautioned: “Expecting people to have consciousness outside of their time is not fair. But equally, in our time, we are aware of slavery, we’re living with its consequences in Minneapolis and many other places.”

Frances Brook, a tour guide in England who has led groups to Austen sites, said that she was in favor of the museum presenting more context about Austen’s time, but that condemning her for wearing cotton and taking sugar in her tea would amount to “woke-ism gone a little too far.” Like the rest of us, Austen did things in her everyday life that conflicted with her broader views about the world, said Ms. Brook, who last visited the museum in 2017.

Prof. Johnson of Princeton said that the museum’s attempt to add context to Austen’s life would not quell readers’ enthusiasm for her.

“Just because you involve Austen in the messiness of history doesn’t mean you don’t love her,” she said.

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Fallen British Empire Soldiers Overlooked Because of Racism, Inquiry Finds

LONDON — Tens of thousands of soldiers from Africa and Asia who died during World War I in the service of what was then the British Empire were not properly commemorated, partly because of prejudice and racism, according to the findings of an inquiry issued on Thursday.

The report, written by an independent committee, found that the graves of 45,000 to 54,000 people who died serving the British war effort — largely East Africans, West Africans, Egyptians and Indians — did not receive appropriate memorials. At least 116,000 other casualties were not named on any memorials, the report said, adding that the number could be as high as 350,000.

First reported by The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, the inquiry found that, though some colonial subjects had volunteered their service, “an equally high proportion may have been coerced or forcibly conscripted by the military and colonial authorities,” especially in African colonies and in Egypt.

Those who died, in some cases, were commemorated collectively on memorials rather than with their own individual headstones or grave markers, like their European counterparts were. In other cases, soldiers who were missing had their names recorded in registers rather than in stone.

erupted across the country last summer. Critics have said that a government-commissioned report on racial discrimination, released last month in response to those protests, whitewashed racial injustice in Britain after it said that disparities were more because of reasons of socio-economic status than of race.

Statues of slave traders have been torn down in some cities in Britain, and museums in the country have been working to highlight links to slavery and colonialism in their exhibits. The royal family has also come under fire after Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said in an interview last month that a member of the family had asked questions about the skin color of their son, who was then not yet born.

“Unremembered — Britain’s Forgotten War Heroes,” which followed the British Labour lawmaker David Lammy as he investigated why African soldiers who served and died during World War I had not received their own graves.

said on Twitter in response to the inquiry. But recognition that the commission had failed to treat Black African and other ethnic minority soldiers the same as others was a “watershed moment,” he said, adding that it offered an opportunity to work through “this ugly part of our history.”

The report said the failure of the commemoration efforts was underpinned by “entrenched prejudices, preconceptions and pervasive racism of contemporary imperial attitudes.”

Responding to the findings, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission apologized for “historic failings” and said that it was fully committed to delivering on a series of recommendations made in the report. Those included providing more resources to search for those not commemorated and collaborating with local communities to highlight difficult parts of the British Empire’s history.

“The events of a century ago were wrong then and are wrong now,” Claire Horton, the commission’s director general, said in a statement. “We are sorry for what happened and will act to right the wrongs of the past.”

The British defense secretary, Ben Wallace, apologized on behalf of the government on Thursday. “There can be no doubt that prejudice played a part in some of the commissioners’ decisions,” he said in Parliament. He said that the government would support the implementation of the report’s recommendations. “Whilst we can’t change the past, we can make amends and take action,” he said.

But Kehinde Andrews, professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, said “It’s really farcical that in the 21st century, now, they want to apologize.”

The commission was created in 1917 to commemorate the deaths of service members in cemeteries and memorials across the world. Among the group’s main principles is “equality of treatment for the war dead irrespective of rank or religion.” At least 1.7 million British Empire and Commonwealth citizens died during the two World Wars.

In World War I, the contributions of soldiers from “white-settled” countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand dominated the narrative over other parts of the British Empire, the report said.

Many Britons were unaware that nonwhite colonial subjects were involved in the empire’s wars, and that was because of gaps in the history that is taught in schools, Professor Andrews said. “If government institutions were serious, you have to fundamentally rebuild the school curriculum from scratch,” he added.

The forced conscription of colonial subjects, he said, should open a conversation about restitution and reparations for the families of those affected.

“This was 100 years ago,” he said, adding that the current accounting of past wrongs was “too little, too late.”

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In Reconciliation Act, Macron Acknowledges Truth of Algerian Lawyer’s Death

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron, the first French president born after the brutal Algerian war of independence, has taken a further step toward reconciliation through truth by declaring that a leading Algerian lawyer and nationalist did not die by suicide in 1957, as France had long claimed, but was tortured and killed by French soldiers.

Ali Boumendjel, a prominent wartime defender of Algerians imprisoned by the French, was captured on Feb. 5, 1957, during the Battle of Algiers and held in secret for 43 days.

Speaking “in the name of France,” Mr. Macron said Mr. Boumendjel “did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then assassinated.”

For decades, and despite persistent pressure from the lawyer’s late widow, Malika Boumendjel, France clung to the story that the death was a suicide. It did so even after the French army general, Paul Aussaresses, admitted in a book published in 2001 that he had killed Mr. Boumendjel by defenestration through a sixth-floor window.

report commissioned by Mr. Macron on the legacy of colonization and a war for independence between the two countries. Written by Benjamin Stora, a prominent French historian, and made public in January, it called for a Memories and Truth Commission, now established, to shed light on the conflict’s grim history and to heal wounds.

the widespread use of torture by French forces, and specifically its use against Maurice Audin, a member of the Algerian Communist Party who was also killed by French soldiers in 1957.

Mr. Macron, who is facing a presidential election 14 months from now and knows how explosive the Algerian issue still is on the right of the political spectrum, has insisted that there will be “no repentance nor apologies.” The French ambassador to Algeria, François Gouyette, said in an interview published this week that reconciliation must be achieved through a spirit of “neither denial nor repentance.”

Jean Castex, Mr. Macron’s prime minister, said last November that French “self-flagellation” around the theme of colonization was regrettable. He called for the country to assume its history and find in it a source of pride.

The 60th anniversary of the end of the war will be marked in March next year, one month before the first round of the presidential election. Mr. Macron is determined to advance his quest for Franco-Algerian reconciliation before then, in part to head off the anti-immigrant challenge of Marine Le Pen.

A perennial candidate, Ms. Le Pen has been working hard to appeal to the moderate center-right by dropping some of her more extreme positions, like exiting the European Union and the euro. Her National Rally party, formerly the National Front, exploited resentments over the loss of Algeria to build its support after its founding almost a half-century ago.

“No crime, no atrocity committed by anyone during the Algerian War, can be excused or hidden,” Mr. Macron said in his statement. “They must be viewed with courage and lucidity, in the absolute respect of all those whose life and destiny they destroyed.”

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