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France spends 24 hours without immigrants

LJSI / Eleonora Machline

1 March is La journée sans immigrés - the "Day Without Immigrants" - in France. An immigrants' rights campaign group is calling on all French citizens of immigrant origin not to work or spend money for 24 hours, in order to demonstrate the importance of their contribution to France's economy.

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The 24 Hours Without Us group organised the movement to coincide with the anniversary of the introduction of more restrictive French immigration laws on 1 March 2005.

As well as the economic boycott, demonstrations are planned in Paris and other French cities.

The movement is "a call to all French citizens, whether they're of immigrant origin or not," said the vice-president of 24 Hours Without Us, Peggy Darder.

The message is that "immigration is not a problem, contrary to what we may have heard recently," Darder explains.

"Immigration is not a burden, immigration is not a weight to bear, immigration is an asset and an opportunity for France."

Commentators on RFI's French site had mixed opinions of the movement.

"If all the immigrants stop working, even just for one day, we're going to feel it," writes Lancelin. "Everything will stop."

But immigrants are "shooting themselves in the foot" with this campaign, says Cobra10. "There's 10 per cent unemployment and all these problems in France with violent gangs, etc - created by immigration. This demonstration is really not welcome."

And Delacroix suggests a parallel day without the state benefits paid to immigrants.

Yet "what would we do if all these people (often so badly treated) left for another more welcoming country," responds Anweta. "Would job seekers be willing to replace an immigrant worker on the same wages and under the same conditions? I doubt it! 24 hours without spending or work will [...] give us cause to reflect and celebrate France's diversity!"

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