guardian.co.uk: France’s minorities under fire

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: “(French President) Nicolas Sarkozy has failed to keep his promises on diversity – as the far right rises, we must defend the rights of ethnic minorities;” writes Patrick Lozès.

He continues:  “According to independent research associations, visible minorities represent more than 15% of the population of France. Yet only 0.2% of deputies and about 1% of senators elected in metropolitan France are from a minority background. There is no French black person at the head of any large government ministry, and no French black person occupying the position of an ambassador, director of a CAC 40 corporation or senior staff officer in the armed forces.”

With the rise of the far-right National Front, it’s pretty clear that matters are not going to improve in France anytime soon.

What must minorities do in Europe as xenophobic parties raise their heads? In many cases, some minorities are the most defenceless in society because they don’t have political power.  Instead of defending their rights, some politicians use them as punching and bashing bags to gain votes.

The magic word or clarion call that should unite all immigrants and minorities throughout Europe is inclusion.

Do you agree?

____________

By Patrick Lozès

The recent local elections in France witnessed not only increased pressure from the extreme right National Front (FN), but also division within the conservative party in power, the UMP, which fluctuated uncertainly between an alliance with the FN and one with the opposition parties. As for the left, it can hardly be seen as a credible alternative. The situation for minorities in France has therefore become more than difficult. It has become critical.

To keep on reading click here.

  1. JusticeDemon

    I’m waiting for some of our more rabid contributors to come on here and say that this is the result of a sustained policy of multiculturalism. 🙂

  2. Juan

    France has a greater responsibility to its minorities since a good percentage of them are from former colonies, most of which were left in shambles after its departure.

    Europe must realize that inclusion means inclusion in education, work, employment, etc. It is not enough just to include minorities in football teams.

    All the more shameful since Sarkozy himself is from a minority as he traces his lineage from Hungarian Jews.

    • Enrique

      I totally agree, Juan: “Europe must realize that inclusion means inclusion in education, work, employment, etc. It is not enough just to include minorities in football teams.”

  3. Maria

    I wonder if you have really lived in France for a long time to understand how the situation really is there.
    I have, and ethnic minorities have a big share of responsibility in the whole issue, specially those that despite of the country offering free universities, with no entrance examinations, drop out just because they do not want to study, also there is a fair share of ethnic minorities who do pretty well in France, are educated and have decent, stable and secure jobs, with good salaries. The fact that there are not enough ethnic minorities in politics is perhaps the same reason why there are not enough women either. The French political scene has always been predominantly masculine.

  4. Juan

    Maria, you have hit the nail right on the head with the hammer. Discrimination against certain groups (e.g. immigrants) will lead to discrimination of other groups as well (eg. women, homosexuals, etc.).

    If there are people from certain groups that commit crimes, try to defraud welfare, etc., they should be held accountable for their actions as individuals and not as members of certain groups. After all, we are all accountable to the law as individuals.

    That is why the culture in North America is more receptive to immigrants. The focus is on the individual. What is important is the results that you can produce in your job and not from what group in society you come from. Advancement in society is based on merit and not on entitlement due to where you are born.

    In Finland, society is still more comfortable seeing 10 drunks stinking of vodka staggering out of the Kamppi station than 1 hardworking middle-easterner in his own pizza-kebab restaurant. The drunks are entitled to society’s benefits because they are seem as Finns. The middle-easterner is not because he is not a seen as a finn and will never be one even if he can speak perfect finnish and can recite the Kalevala by heart. Both are not evaluated by their individual actions but rather by from what group society perceives them to be from.

    Europeans should remember their own history and reflect on why their ancestors left for the new world.

    • Enrique

      Juan, I agree that Europeans should read their history. A very interesting point you made of the United States. People should be seen as individuals. The reason why some Europeans and Finns have issues with diversity is because they were never taught otherwise. They were brought up learning to old views of society that portrayed them in some fairy society land. Finland has never really debated seriously enough the Continuation War and our relationship with Nazi Germany. Some historians will brush that question under the rug by stating that “we had to because of Russia.” Our vew of the world is, unfortunately, for some still simplistic and held up with antquated and racist Eugenics theories. Can you imagine that a lecturer at Aalto University believes that Muslims should not be allowed to run for office in Finland? Incredible!

  5. Juan

    I am not surprised to hear about that Enrique, that is why the tertiary education in Finland, though of high quality in terms of scientific precision and rigor, lacks the multi-disciplinary breadth and variety that comes from a more diverse society. As a result, Finnish universities have a hard time attracting international faculty and students. There is no Finnish university in the top 100 MBA programs. And sad to say, most finns will not see this lack of diversity at the university level as a threat but rather as a strength.

  6. Maria

    You both make interesting points, but again for understanding what is going on in France you have to live there long enough, it is WAY more complicated that what it appears, and totally different from what happens in Finland.

    I was brought up in a 100% French environment, and nowhere I was told to discriminate against anybody, remember the French Republic motto: LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE, but sadly in France the situation has gone out of control, and some immigrants are as guilty as some French. For example there are 2 or 3 generation Arabs that despite being born in France and holding French citizenship, do not feel French and HATE France, why is that? the situation has led to a vicious circle where some immigrants hate France and some French hate immigrants.

    Also the issue about the veil is very controversial, because way before the massive immigration from ex-colonies for building the country after the war, the state had separated the church from all the politics, turning France into a secular country in law 1906, this was fundamental in building France, then the muslim came with veiled women, of course it is controversial and of course it is complicated to solve, since there are the rights of muslim that need to be taken into consideration but they obviously clash with French laws, the solution I do not know. The official law says:

    “Dans les écoles, les collèges et les lycées publics, le port de signes ou tenues par lesquels les élèves manifestent ostensiblement une appartenance religieuse est interdit”

    This includes every religion, not only muslims.

    Also in some places in France you no longer see France anywhere, everything is written in Arabic and you hardly see any French, is that ok?

    Also Juan you make a good point, France has always discriminated against women in politics, it has been difficult for them to gain access, imagine now for immigrants.

    • Enrique

      –You both make interesting points, but again for understanding what is going on in France you have to live there long enough, it is WAY more complicated that what it appears, and totally different from what happens in Finland.

      That is the reason why cultural diversity has to work. If it doesn’t it is a lose-lose situation for all.

  7. Maria

    Well Enrique, in France it has not worked and I do not think it will ever work, we need a massive shift in the human moral and values and perceptions, and that my friend is far from happening.

    • Enrique

      –Well Enrique, in France it has not worked and I do not think it will ever work, we need a massive shift in the human moral and values and perceptions, and that my friend is far from happening.

      Well, now what? The old way? Or should we try some new ways to make society more inclusive? Opportunity is crucial not reinfocing stereotypes. And this is, of course, a two-way process.

  8. JusticeDemon

    The neofascist movement in Europe has an embarrassing problem explaining the situation in France, as this one European Union country has distinguished itself by explicitly rejecting any suggestion of multiculturalism or interculturalism. This has been the position of the Paris government even to the point of absurdity: the official line has long been that the people of Brittany and Corsica are culturally French in exactly the same way.

    In practice this policy is forced to bend according to local conditions. For example the key term in the provision cited by Maria is ostensiblement. This is supposedly enough to outlaw a headscarf but not a crucifix, unless a headscarf becomes a popular fashion accessory…

    It is more than a little disingenuous to refer to “immigration from ex-colonies” when the people concerned often held French passports. As part of Republique Française, Algeria in particular was part of the EEC until its secession in 1962. French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion are still parts of France, their people are citizens of the European Union, and their currency is the Euro. Moving to Paris from these countries is legally equivalent to moving from Corsica or Brittany, and as far as French official policy is concerned, the culture of the people and of their points of departure and arrival is exactly the same.

    What this means in practice is that there are no positive public measures that help individuals to establish their identities.

    This was an interesting comment:

    ethnic minorities have a big share of responsibility in the whole issue, specially those that despite of the country offering free universities, with no entrance examinations, drop out just because they do not want to study

    These students all achieved their bachot, presumably by studying, and thereby gained the right to enroll in a university. This is part of an educational tradition that has continued in France for at least half a century, and is the reason why French universities tend to be massively oversubscribed, and why they standardly set a very stiff examination at the end of the first year. There has always been a very high dropout rate for this reason, and it has little or nothing to do with ethnic background. The writer’s implication, again, is that ethnic minorities are work shy. Once again this phenomenon shows no such thing.

  9. JusticeDemon

    Oops.

    Ricky, please close the blockquote after the first paragraph thus:

    ethnic minorities have a big share of responsibility in the whole issue, specially those that despite of the country offering free universities, with no entrance examinations, drop out just because they do not want to study

    These students all achieved their bachot, presumably by studying, and thereby gained the right to enroll in a university. This is part of an educational tradition that has continued in France for at least half a century, and is the reason why French universities tend to be massively oversubscribed, and why they standardly set a very stiff examination at the end of the first year. There has always been a very high dropout rate for this reason, and it has little or nothing to do with ethnic background. The writer’s implication, again, is that ethnic minorities are work shy. Once again this phenomenon shows no such thing.

  10. Maria

    Excuse me Justice Demon, what have you studied in France and lived there? You have no clue of how the educational system is organized.

    I did my whole school, from preschool all the way to university in the French system, I have my BAC, it is not bachot, but BAC and you are mixing the parallel system of public universities and GRANDE ECOLES, in public universities there is NO HARD EXAM after the 1st year of studies and yes I saw many Arabs for example, that dropped just because, and I also saw many other Africans and Arabs saying publicly how much they hated France, despite being French citizens, so argue as much as you want, there some immigrants that are troublesome there.

    Also I believe you are acquainted with the French word RACAILLE, well I saw many of those people and they are more racist than the French themselves, I was even attacked by one, once even though I am not even French and I have Arab ancestry. Those are the ones that do not work, do not study and usually are engaging in suspicious activities, but yeah whatever, you are going to find a way for telling I am wrong.

    Don’t try to give me lessons of something I know thoroughly.

  11. Maria

    Yeah maybe the stiff exam you are talking about is the CONCOURS, which only concerns the people who were selected for studying in a CLASSE PREPARATOIRE, in order to gain access to one of GRANDE ECOLE, there is no other way to get there than by going through the CONCOURS, but the entrance for public universities is based on having at least a 10/20 (the minimum passing grade) in the BAC, no other stiff examination will be necessary in a public university.

    TWO VERY DIFFERENT PARALLEL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS, I was talking about public university.

    That shows that you like to talk and pretend you know everything about everything, your lack of knowledge on the French educational system shows it is not the case.

  12. JusticeDemon

    Maria

    The main point is that matriculation in France confers the automatic right to enroll in a university, and this already explains the high drop-out rate. Whether the mechanism for this is an end-of-year exam (as it was in the 70s, anyway) or the demands of regular coursework is not to the point.

    You seem to confuse immigrants, Arabs, Africans and French citizens, at least from the perspective of those of us who do not draw distinctions between people according to their very remote ancestry, as assumed from superficial appearance. The distinctions may be clear to you, but they are opaque to the rest of us. How would you classify, say, Zenedine Zidane? Please bear in mind that Algeria was part of France when his parents were born. When you’ve decided that one, try classifying Thierry Henry for good measure. Then tell me what you think of Frank Ribéry/Bilal Yusuf Mohammed.

    Perhaps if you approve of the term racaille, then you won’t mind if we call you a chav. In Finland this is the core support group for PS, after all.

    There is a lot of selective perception going on here. Have you ever noticed that if you are searching for something that you have lost, then you always find it in the last place you look? Have you ever noticed that the phone always rings when you are in the bath? Have you noticed that your operating system always crashes when you are doing something important (and just before you save your work)?

    This is also the psychological mechanism of prejudice.

  13. Maria

    Yes and you missed my point:

    In France some immigrants are as guilty for the problems as some French, Zidane, Henry and the others you mentioned are French, the problem comes when some of those French citizens hate their nationality, as I saw many of them saying how putrid France was.

    I approve of the term racaille because that is what they are, are you friends with them? have you met any of them? so that it could explain why you defend them so fiercely.

    And I am not ashamed to tell that I hate them, the few encounters I had with them were:

    – I was attacked by one of them on the street just because I did not thank him after he received the Metro paper from me, but I did thank amn old French granpa who received it as well.
    – Two of my friends were almost raped by one of them, one of those friends was actually my Muslim best friend, but they considered she was an easy target because she didn’t were the veil, thus immediately labeling her as a bitch for not wearing it.
    -One of my Norwegian friends in France, who was on exchange, got kicked on the street by 3 of them for no reason. They just crossed ways and the guys came back and assaulted him.
    – The cousin of one of my friends got his leg broken by one of them, because he tried to defend himself when they were robbing him.

    And I could go on, and on.

    If you think those people do not have any problem, then you are very biased.
    Even their fellow Arab countrymen despise the group denominated as RACAILLE.

    And please before you answer tell me if you know any of them, are friends with any of them or have been in France long enough and have witnessed the situation, do you speak fluent french for example? Otherwise your claims lack of objectivity.

    • Enrique

      Maria, aggressive behavior by anyone is totally unacceptable. However, we should not mix an unpleasant experience and pin it on a whole group. I was once robbed 240 euros in Madrid from a group of Roma. I don’t hold any grudges for what happened. Fortunately I got the money back.

  14. Maria

    And please don’t give me French history lessons, I know it very well, I had 20 years of French history and law lessons.

  15. Maria

    “The main point is that matriculation in France confers the automatic right to enroll in a university, and this already explains the high drop-out rate.”

    And then again YOU are wrong, the BAC doesn’t give you automatic access to any of the Grandes Ecoles, which happen to be universities as well.
    And no, many of the people that drop out, do it because they DO NOT WANT to study, but I guess since you studied in France you know it better than me.

    I studied in:

    Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3
    Université des Sciences Sociales, Toulouse 1, and
    Ecole supérieure de commerce de Rouen, nowadays, Rouen Business School.

  16. JusticeDemon

    Maria

    You did not contradict what I said about the Baccalauréat.

    You have not made clear exactly how you reached your conclusion that drop-outs do not want to study. People drop out of college for a wide variety of reasons. In particular they drop out when forced to do so by personal circumstances, and especially inadequate financial support. Some university students are unable to adjust psychologically to the learning environment. One of the most common reasons for failing to complete a degree in Finland is securing a full-time job. Are you citing a formal survey of reasons for failing to complete university studies in France? If not, then what is the academic basis for your conclusion?

    You are still sliding between various characterisations of individuals according to ethnic origin, cultural background and social class. We get it that you despise the lumpen proletariat, but you seem to identify this social group in ethnocultural and racial terms. My French may be a bit rusty, but this is not how racaille is normally used. To the extent that you selectively apply this term to people of a certain ethnocultural or racial origin, your use of the term is prejudicial and inflammatory.

    In any case the point remains that nothing that happens in French society can be attributed to a public policy of multiculturalism or interculturalism, because the Republic has explicitly denounced and avoided any such policy. In this respect the laws of France could have been drafted by PS or Wille Rydman.

    Incidentally, are you now doing a job that corresponds to your education? From your earlier postings I got the impression that you are still at the pet foreigner stage in your local community, as opposed to contributing as an equal partner and participating in formulating the policies that affect your life and the lives of others.

  17. Maria

    “You did not contradict what I said about the Baccalauréat.”

    I think I told you that the BAC does not give you automatic access to all the universities in France. Wasn’t that your point? As you said people from Guiana, Martinique and such are French, they are called DOM-TOM, and people from Maghreb are no longer French citizens, they are nationals of their own country, still a person who attends a French school and earns a BAC is entitled to go to France for studying, but it does not explain the massive drop-outs.

    “You have not made clear exactly how you reached your conclusion that drop-outs do not want to study.”
    Well perhaps after living in France for 5 years and having attended 3 different types of universities and after having talked to people there, I know how the situation is: most of the people who drop out do it because they simply do not want to study, in public universities, in Grandes Ecoles, they do not drop out, they are kicked out if they fail.

    “My French may be a bit rusty, but this is not how racaille is normally used”
    I do not hate the proletarian Lumpen, I was actually teaching kids of the same proletarian lumpen French and my best friend, the Muslim girl, is from those origins, French-Algerian, but she was wise enough to not turn herself into a racaille and is now a lawyer.

    I will give you the definition of racaille:

    Les individus dont le rôle social se limite à la petite délinquance. La racaille est ainsi un terme utilisé pour souligner la non-adhésion aux normes en vigueur dans la société.

    “The individuals whose role is society is limited to petty crimes. Racaille is term also used for designating the non-respect of the norms in force in the society”

    On parle de « la racaille de la société » pour désigner une frange non intégrée, dont les valeurs sociales ne s’accordent pas avec celle de la majorité, ou à laquelle la société refuse d’accorder un statut plein et entier de « partie du tout ».

    “We define by Racaille, a part of the society which is not integrated and whose values are not in accordance with those of the majority, or to whom society refuses to give a full status and designate as “somebody who belongs”

    Dans la « langue des cités », le terme désigne les voyous et membres des bandes, mais sans connotation d’exclusion ou de mépris. Au contraire, il désigne plutôt ceux dont la réputation inspire la crainte ou le respect.

    ” in ghetto language racaille refers to delinquents or band members, but without a pejorative meaning, on the contrary it designates those whose reputation inspires fear and respect”

    Ce terme peut être utilisé de manière étendue, pour définir une partie qui ne se conforme pas aux règles et usages standards, par exemple « la racaille de la finance » désignerait une partie des individus travaillant dans ce domaine et adoptant un comportement déviant, assimilable dans ce cas à de la délinquance financière.

    “This term can be used in an extended sense for defining a group of people that do not conform to the rules and standards for example, we can talk of financial racaille for designating a group of people working in finance whose behavior would deviate from standard practices, for example financial delinquency.”

    Unfortunately when you go to France you will notice that most of the racaille is from Arab origin, some Africans, some French, but mostly Arabs.

    So what is your definition of Racaille?

    “Incidentally, are you now doing a job that corresponds to your education? From your earlier postings I got the impression that you are still at the pet foreigner stage in your local community, as opposed to contributing as an equal partner and participating in formulating the policies that affect your life and the lives of others.”

    What do u mean by pet foreigner exactly?

    and yes I am working in my field, marketing and branding, I work for a Finnish fashion company and take care of the French market, incidentally I am also opening the market in the U.S.

    And what I do for helping? well I am constantly donating to charities and I was actually gathering toys last xmas for Finnish poor kids who live in orphanages and foster homes, politics is not my field and thus I am not directly involved in formulating policies, maybe if one day I am allowed to vote I will.

  18. JusticeDemon

    Maria

    You evidently didn’t study logic. Compare what I said about the Baccalauréat:

    These students all achieved their bachot, presumably by studying, and thereby gained the right to enroll in a university.

    The main point is that matriculation in France confers the automatic right to enroll in a university…

    with your account of what I said:

    I told you that the BAC does not give you automatic access to all the universities in France. Wasn’t that your point?

    If I gave you a luncheon voucher and told you that you could use it to buy lunch at a restaurant, would you conclude that the voucher was good for lunch at the Savoy or the Ritz?

    If, on the other hand, I told you that you could use the voucher to buy lunch at all restaurants, then what conclusion could you draw?

    These two assertions are not equivalent.

    Racaille is a pejorative expression that is subjectively defined. It’s similar to “scum” in English, and the core of its use implies some assumed superiority of the speaker over the person described using this expression, according to a scale of value imposed by the speaker as normative.

    The definition that you provide includes eccentrics of all kinds and celebrities of popular and esoteric culture, probably with the proviso that they are not wealthy. It also includes social outcasts of all kinds, irrespective of individual culpability or responsibility for the associated circumstances (e.g. homeless schizophrenics).

    The part about ethnocultural and racial extraction is your own contribution, and you persist in calling people like Zenedine Zidane “Arabs”, even though as a matter of French official policy they are as French as anyone can be: French citizens born in France of parents who were French citizens born in France. It is fascinating that you cannot see the racism in this way of thinking.

    A pet foreigner is an exotic neighbour who is treated with hospitality as a long-stay guest but not expected to participate in any meaningful community decisions, nor assigned any meaningful community function. You seem to be in this position, though you may not have noticed it yet.

    You seem fairly assertive and opinionated, so at some point you can expect to have the experience of attending a meeting and arguing for some proposal, receiving no feedback whatsoever on your argument, and observing that the meeting continues after you have spoken precisely as it would have done if you had not bothered to attend. A poodle on an extending leash can experience the illusion that it decides the route taken, especially if the route is usually the same. It’s only when the poodle decides to chase a rabbit into the woods that the true nature of the leash becomes clear.

    • Enrique

      María, I understand your frustration but give us some solutions. How do we make society more inclusive? Take into account those that live in that society now.

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