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France

Far Right success dampens anti-racist group's 30th birthday

Demonstration in Paris, with more than 5000 participants.
Demonstration in Paris, with more than 5000 participants. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The French anti-racism group SOS Racisme marks its 30th anniversary today. Formed in 1984 to tackle racism, the organization still faces many of the challenges that inspired its initial creation, including the alarming rise of the Far Right in France and across Europe.

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It was a historic march against inequality that led to SOS Racisme's creation 30 years ago.

In 1983, thousands of demonstrators poured out onto France's towns and cities, to vent their anger against the prejudice suffered by the country's North African immigrant population.

It was in this explosive racist climate, that the French anti-racist group SOS Racisme sprung to life, adopting the iconic slogan: "Don't touch my friend," featured on a big yellow hands-up sign.

The youngest of four anti-racism groups in France, the principle of the association is to defend ethnic minorities against discrimination.

Thirty years after its creation, its battle is still the same, except now it faces new challenges.

Bernadette Hétier, co-president of the MRAP anti-racist movement in Paris, says the danger now is the Front National party, which has capitalized on anti-immigration sentiment.

We are all very worried by the situation in France...and the rise of Far Right opinions

In a 2012 report, the National Commission for Human Rights estimated that 1539 acts of racism had been carried out, roughly a rise of 23%.

 

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