SECTION 1 – DOCUMENTS Race relation in France in the 1980s
After studying this section, you should understand: • Why race relations worsened in France in the 1980s. • What government policy was in relation to integration, assimilation and immigration. • How political parties reacted to the issue of race relations. • The impact of the Headscarf Affair. • What happened in the city of Dreux. • How anti-racist organisations tried to combat racism.
WHY IMMIGRANTS CAME TO FRANCE? CULTURAL DIVERSITY A number of different cultures (way of life) in one country. • Most of the early post-war immigration came from Italy, Spain and Portugal to fill vacant jobs. • Later, French migrants came largely from Africa, especially the Maghreb. THE GLORIOUS THIRTY (Les trenteglorieuses) refers to the years 1945 to 1975, when the French economy prospered. MAGHREB The five north African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. French Maghrebi immigrants came from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Cultural diversity in multi-racial France • Immigration added to cultural diversity in France. • Immigration from North and West Africa and Asia introduced people with a different skin colour and religion – Islam. • Many of the new immigrants lived in cities. • The French republican policy of assimilating and integrating the different cultures aimed to lessen cultural diversity in France. • The French government used education to introduce people to common culture. • The road and rail network, and the influence of television and radio, created a more unified country and served to lessen cultural differences. • Some argued that it was the refusal of France to recognise cultural differences which led to difficulties.
WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCED RACE RELATIONS IN FRANCE IN THE 1980s • During the 1980s,race relations became an important and controversial topic in France. This was due to a number of factors: • Changes in the pattern of immigration in the previous decade. • Worsening economic conditions. The French economy worsened after the two oil crises of the 1970s. Unemployment rose to 10%. There was more serious unemployment amongst unskilled, largely immigrant, workers. • Housing and social conditions in working-class areas in French cities. Immigrants lived in poor housing conditions. These were usually large blocks of apartments with inadequate social facilities – les bainlieues. Immigrants in those apartment blocks had higher illiteracy rates, less prospect of employment and higher school drop-out rates. • The rise of the National Front. • Government policies.
HOW DID RACE RELATIONS WORSEN IN THE 1980s? • During the 1980s examples of racial conflict became more common: • There were increased attacks on immigrants: • Attacks on Jews (Anti-Semitism) • North Africans were attacked and killed • There was job and housing discrimination • Burning of immigrant hostels and mosques • More police identity checks • More racial graffiti • Burning of cars by immigrant youths • The leader of the National Front, Le Pen, made anti-Semitic comments on television in 1990. • French public opinion turned against the immigrants. • In 1973-74, most French people felt immigrants were doing useful jobs. • In the 1980s they said sending immigrants home would solve the unemployment problem in France.
THE NATIONAL FRONT • The success of the National Front began in 1983 in Dreux where it joined with right-wing parties to defeat the Socialists. • The National Front said that: • Immigrants should go back to their own countries. • Immigrants threated French identity – ‘France for the French’. • Social welfare should be for genuine French people. • All France’s problems were caused by immigration. • Their propaganda was effective, making immigration a key issue in French elections during the 1980s and afterwards.
FRENCH POLICIES ON INTEGRATION • REPUBLICAN IDEAL that all citizens were free and equal. Expectation that immigrants would be integrated into French society – adopt the ways and lifestyles of the French. • State school system was to ensure that the republican ideal was taught. • Opposed to multiculturalism as it divided French society. • Some people felt that Islam would prevent immigrants from integrating. • Wide gap in opinion in France.
GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON IMMIGRATION • The National Front forced the main political parties to change their views. • President François Mitterand and the Socialists brought in the following policies: • Immigrants had no voting rights in local elections. • More illegal immigrants were expelled. • It was more difficult for families to be reunited. • Following the 1986 general election, right-wing Prime Minister Jacques Chirac brought in tougher immigration laws: • Political alliances with the National Front. • Nationality Law: Children born in France to foreign parents could no longer automatically become French citizens at 18.
‘Headscarf Affair’ of 1989 & impact • In 1989 three Muslim girls were suspended from a state school for wearing headscarves (hijab) as part of their faith. • The principal said they were breaking French laws on secularism, where church and state were separate. • Anti-racist organisations tried to appeal but were unsuccessful. • The National Front used the slogan, ‘No to the headscarf, no to mosques’. • This forced the Socialist government to introduce measures which they said would integrate immigrants into French society. • Controversy continued.
ORDINARY LEVEL QUESTIONS • 2010 – What problems in race relations developed in France in the 1980s and what attempts were made to solve them. • 2009 – How did France become a multi-racial society and what problems in race relations developed in the 1980s? • 2007 – How and why did France experience problems in race relations in the 1980s? • 2006 – How and why did France experience problems in race relations during the 1980s?