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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
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 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 Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
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. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid