News / Europe

France's Anti-Immigration Parties on the Rise

An estimated 200,000 residents of Marseilles, France are Muslim, roughly a quarter of the population
An estimated 200,000 residents of Marseilles, France are Muslim, roughly a quarter of the population

Multimedia

Henry Ridgwell

France has one of the most diverse populations in Europe. But recently, tensions between different ethnic groups appear to have increased. Government moves to ban the full Muslim veil and to expel hundreds of Roma people, have reinforced the view that France is moving to the right. Marseilles, France's second biggest city and a major Mediterranean port, has a history of taking in people from around the world. But even here there is evidence of a backlash.

For many people in France's former African colonies, especially Morocco and Algeria, Marseilles was a gateway and the city's population is an ethnic mosaic.  Some have even hailed Marseilles as a model of integration. An estimated 200,000 residents are Muslim, a quarter of the population.

But like the rest of France, anti-immigrant parties have seen a resurgence here.  Analysts say government policies have fueled anti-immigrant feeling.  In July, France became one of the first European countries to effectively ban the full veil worn by some Muslim women.

The move angered France's Muslim population, the biggest in Europe. At Marseille's largest mosque, Imam Haroun Derbal questions the reasoning behind the law.

"Muslims are very well integrated," said Derbal.  "They've been here for centuries.  Of course, Muslims are being stigmatized by this law. Why do it? For a total of 200 people in France who wear the full veil, you want to pass a law?"

In addition, a project to build a grand mosque in Marseilles has now stalled.  "It's true to say that a part of the political opposition does not want this mosque," added Derbal.  "When I say the far right, I'm talking about the National Front."

The National Front spearheaded the campaign against the mosque.  In regional elections in March, the party increased its share of the vote to 20 percent with a campaign called "No to Islam." Stephane Ravier is a representative of the Front on Marseille's city council.  

"There is integration in France, but the only integration is French people having to integrate themselves with foreigners," she noted.  "In Marseille and all the big cities in France, the strongest feeling is that it is French people who are obliged to learn the culture and traditions of new groups who are arriving on their doorstep."

France's immigration debate also encompasses the Roma people, known as Gypsies. In August, the government approved the expulsion of hundreds of Romas to Romania and Bulgaria, sparking outrage from human rights groups and even the European Union. President Nicolas Sarkozy has defended the round-up as a crackdown on crime.  He denies targeting a particular ethnic group.

Thierry Noir, a political correspondent with the regional newspaper La Provence, says the debate over immigration has economic roots.  

"For the last 30 years France has functioned on a model of integration, but it's a model that is dependent on economic growth," said Noir.

As in many European countries, France's debate over immigration has become louder in the economic downturn.  In a period of uncertainty, France is debating not only its policies, but its identity.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid