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France and its communities. Introduction : the inexistence of minorities in France.

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introduction the inexistence of minorities in france
Introduction: the inexistence of minorities in France
  • According to the French constitution, article 1: France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. (…)
  • This is the “French republican model” => no distinction is made between citizens. Therefore, no minority is recognized, and no special right is provided to minorities.
  • On the other hand, French citizens of foreign origins should be treated exactly the same way as other citizens
As a matter of consequence, NO OFFICIAL STATISTIQUE is made in France in order to know how many French people have foreign origins, how many are of different color, come from a particular Ethnic group, are Buddhists or Muslims…
  • This prohibition is supposed to strengthen to unity of the nation and is aimed at avoiding any stigmatization

=> Is this model successful? Is French nation unified, and do the communities live their peacefully without racism nor discrimination?

=> Obviously, French integration model of assimilation is not successful. Racism seems to be more and more present. So the question whether the republican model need to be changed is a very burning one.

no minorities no racism no discrimination
No minorities = no racism, no discrimination?

According to an official poll from the High Committee of Audiovisual, in 2005:

  • 88% of French people think that racism is a widespread phenomenon in France.
  • 63% think that some behaviors may sometimes justify racist reactions
  • 63% think that immigrants have difficulties to integrate in French society because of their own differences and 44% because of the French society itself.
  • En 2005, one out of three French people confesses being a racist!
i who is victim of racism in france
I) Who is victim of racism in France?

Main communities in France:

  • No official statisticsexist, since taking a census of the ethnic origin of French citizens is forbidden by the law.
  • So how many are they? According to most credible estimations, around 23% of inhabitants (14 millions) are of foreign origins (at least one parent was born abroad).
    • 6.9 millions come from EU countries, 3 millions from Maghreb, and 700 000 from sub-Saharan Africa

=> The “Muslim community”, namely persons issued of countries where Islam is the main religion, isbetween 3.5 and 6 millions(varying according to the source!).

i who is victim of racism in france1
I) Who is victim of racism in France?

Here are some results of the official poll from the High Committee of Audiovisual, in 2005.

According to you, who are the main victims of racism in France?

i who is victim of racism in france2
I) Who is victim of racism in France?

=> Of course this poll is only representative of the feeling of French people (who they feel are victims of racism). As explained previously, no figures are available to confirm such statements.

=> The most significant example of community suffering from racism and discrimination in France is certainly North African / Muslim community

i who is victim of racism in france3
I) Who is victim of racism in France?

Northern African / Muslims

A young Muslim girl is manifesting to show that wearing the veil is not incompatible with being French, and being attached to France

 Racism and discrimination is really high towards Muslims, and people with northern African features
  • 42% of French people quoted the North African / Muslims as the main victims of racism; 85% think that they have more difficulty than other persons to find a job.
  • 36% declare not liking Muslims at all, and 65% consider that they form an isolated community within France
  • Muslims are hold responsible for most acts of violence by 43% of French people.

 The riots in French suburbs in October 2005 contributed to revive the amalgam: north African feature = delinquent = danger for “pure” French people

2005 riots began on September 27th, in Clichy-sous-Bois, in the suburbs of Paris
  • They began after two teenagers died because they were pursued by policemen
  • Violence spread throughout France, characterized by a rise in car fires.
  • Very soon an amalgam was done between the perpetrators of those violence and young people issued of Northern-African immigration.
  • The political answer to this was

repression and establishment of

an emergency state, which

arose fears even more!

i who is victim of racism in france conclusion
I) Who is victim of racism in France - conclusion
  • Anti-Muslim/Northern-African racism takes also the form of discrimination at work, or at the entries of clubs etc… According to an official poll, in 1998, 19% of active people had already witnessed acts of discrimination for hiring.
  • The current tendency in France seems to lead to a marginalization of Anti-Semitist acts, though they have not disappeared, and to an increase of racist attitudes towards communities issued from the recent waves of immigration, namely from Northern Africa
  • Surprisingly, “black people” are relatively spared from racism, with 43% of French people thinking about them as an open community (37% for Jews and 22% for Muslims). Their integration seems to be more successful than that of “the Arab” population (the term “Arab” being put between coma, because mostly used with a pejorative connotation in France)
ii french current policy against racism
II) French current policyagainst racism
  • Towards a recognition of minorities?
  • Current challenge concerning the integration of ethnic communities, and the struggle against racism and discrimination led some political leader to reconsider French model of neutrality.
  • In order to fight racism, would it be efficient to allow statistics on ethnic belongings, and to recognize the existence of distinct minorities, or would it bring even more racism, by emphasizing the differences?
towards positive action
Towards positive action?

Nicolas Sarkozy, current home secretary, is one of the main partisan of an implementation of policies of positive action, which would take the ethnic belongings into consideration, in order to give better opportunities to the most disfavored minorities.

  • As a symbolic measure, he nominated in 2003 a Muslim prefect, putting the stress on his religious belongings. However, this measure was followed by three attacks against the prefect or his relatives.
  • The idea of implementing quotas and publishing statistics taking the ethnic origin into accounts is far from being approved by all political and scientific people.
  • N. Sarkozy has been accused of wanting to “ethnicize” statistics, since he supported the idea of censing the ethnic origin in statistics. Indeed, publishing a survey showing that 67% of leaders of “gangs” in French suburbs have Northern-African origins does not seem to be the best way to fight against racism and promote integration!
towards positive action1
Towards positive action?
  • Positive action consists in implementing unequal measures in order to restore equality. Through according preferential treatment to some people, it aims at restore equality of chance, which has been annihilated by racist practices and socio-economic inequalities.

=> Positive action may enable brilliant persons from disfavoured communities to benefit from standard level of education and the same chances for employment as equally brilliant people for the majority.

=> However, it could also lead to more ethnicisation of the communities, and to the resentment of the majority, which will be discriminated against. This may lead to an increase of racism.

do you favour or disfavour the authorisation by the state of practices of positive action
Do you favour or disfavour the authorisation by the state of practices of positive action?

Source: poll from the French Superior Commitee of Audiovisual, 2005

con clu sion
  • French republican model of unity of the nation has its roots in the history of revolution. Taking a census of ethnic belongings has become a taboo, which has been reinforced by the sad experience of deportation of Jews during the 2nd World War.
  • However, this model is not successful since it failed to integrate new waves of migrants and to eradicate racism and discrimination.
  • Nowadays, the Muslim community is the main victim of growing racism in France
  • New policies are being currently experimented in order to reactivate a process of integration
  • Positive action is one of those policies. It deeply questions the classical French model, but its efficiency has still not been proved.