Donations to rebuild Notre Dame sparks controversy



By Priscila Solis, Priscila Solis

As France’s famous cathedral Notre Dame burst into flames in mid-April, countries and individuals rallied donations toward rebuilding the 856-year-old church without hesitation.
It is unclear how much it will cost to rebuild Notre Dame after the fire on April 15, but France has already received over $1 billion in donations since the fire, according to the Washington Post.
Many mourned the destruction of the church because of its historical content. Unfortunately, Notre Dame is not the only historical site that has been damaged or lost. In 2018, the National Museum in Rio De Janeiro, which contained over 200 years of work and history, burned down due to lack of security and outdated infrastructure.
“In just a few hours today, 650 million euros was donated to rebuild Notre Dame. In six months, just 15 million euros has been pledged to restore Brazil’s National Museum. I think this is what they call white privilege.” South Africa-based journalist Simon Allison tweeted on April 16.
The French government began working on drafting a new law into parliament shortly after the fire which would enact a hefty tax break on donations offered for rebuild efforts towards the Church.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe suggested in a tweet on April 17 that the tax break would benefit the general public more than the high-profile donors by giving a 77 percent break on donations under 1,000 euros and only a 66 percent on anything over 1,000 euros.
Meanwhile, the 2019 French census has recently revealed that homelessness in France had increased by 21 percent in the past year.
This is a point that has been heavily used by France’s Yellow Vest movement, a social movement aimed to better the socio-economic standing of France’s general public.
Members of the Yellow Vest movement have been protesting in the streets of France for almost five months, demanding change from President Emmanuel Macron and his government, whom they believe only favor big money corporations.
“If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency,” Philippe Martinez, the leader of one of France’s largest unions and a supporter of the Yellow Vests, told Euronews on April 16.
Ingrid Levavasseur, a founding leader of the Yellow Vests, stated that the burning of the church was a tragedy but there are other situations at hand where death occurred that could use the type of attention that Notre Dame received, in an interview with the Associated Press.
“You’re there, looking at all these millions accumulating, after spending five months in the streets fighting social and fiscal injustice. It’s breaking my heart,” said Levavasseur.