News / Europe

Racist Attacks on Minister Prompt Soul Searching in France

Racist Attacks on Minister Prompt Soul Searching in Francei
X
November 22, 2013 12:26 AM
“Is France Racist?” was the recent headline of a leading French newspaper, after a far-right magazine compared the country’s black justice minister to a monkey. The incident has triggered soul searching in France, where the far-right National Front is ahead in some polls, and figures show a 23 percent rise in reported racist incidents last year. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
“Is France Racist?” That was the recent headline in a leading French newspaper, after a far-right magazine compared the country's black justice minister to a monkey. The incident has triggered self-reflection in France, where the far-right National Front party is ahead is some polls, and figures show a 23-percent rise in reported racist incidents last year.

The front cover of the far-right magazine Minute earlier this month depicted Justice Minister Christiane Taubira with a caption that read: "Clever as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back" - a play on the French slang for smile.

A Paris court has opened an inquiry into the publication.

Deputy Education Minister George Pau-Langevin described it as an attack on French values. She said she thinks all French people care about the republic because it was built on the rejection of discrimination and racism, and on the equality of all people. That's why everything that goes against those fundamental principles of the republic harms the republic itself.

Christiane Taubira - who is from French Guiana, an overseas department of France - has been subjected to a series of racial slurs, including being compared to a chimpanzee by a candidate for the right-wing National Front. Taubira said she fears a threat to France’s social cohesion.

There has been a recent change of tone in public debate, said Rainbow Murray, an expert in right-wing French politics at Queen Mary University of London. “There’s always been an underlying racism in France shown by the difficulty in ethnic minority people finding employment. But there’s been perhaps more willingness to express that racism openly in recent months.”

Some observers trace France’s current racial tension back to 2005, when riots occurred in the suburbs of Paris and other cities. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, then France’s interior minister, described the rioters as "racaille" or scum - crossing a rhetorical line in describing the primarily immigrant communities.

Murray said France has never properly integrated its large immigrant communities. “One thing that’s unique about France compared to the UK and the U.S. and similar examples, is that they’re not multiculturalist. They’re integrationalist. So they deny the existence of difference even when it’s really there. And because of that they don’t have explicit policies capable of coping with race. They don’t even acknowledge race in census data.”

Author and blogger Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen, an American from Alabama who moved to Paris with her French husband, traces the rise in racism to France’s economic woes. She spoke to VOA via Skype. “Unemployment is rising. The president’s approval is dropping steadily; he’s right now the most unpopular president in French history. France is also afraid of globalization, and they also have a national identity crisis.”

President Francois Hollande has condemned the attacks on Taubira. Rights groups accuse him of a lukewarm reaction - and warn that taboos over public displays of racism are collapsing.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
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.

AppleAndroid