Racism and xenophobia on the rise in France, report

AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard

Intolerance is on the rise in France, according to an independent body which advises the government. Racist acts rose reported to the police rose by more than 23 per cent in 2012, according to the French Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH).


The French are increasingly intolerant of and unwelcoming to immigrants, the CNCDH said in its annual report in its annual report on racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, published Thursday.

As in many European countries, it says, the financial crisis has boosted resentment towards immigrants, while last year's Toulouse killing spree by Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah and the row following the publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohamed also helped feed anti-Muslim sentiment.

The report found there had also been a 37 per cent increase in anti-Semitic acts, although CNCDH legal adviser Cécile Riou told RFI that people are less open about anti-Semitism.

It also found a 30 per cent rise in Islamophobic incidents.

Earlier this week French courts overruled an earlier court decision to dismiss a nursery nurse for wearing a Muslim headscarf at work.

It ruled that the French ban on face-covering garments in the public domain did not apply to the private sector, a decision that was deplored by France’s Minister for Women's Rights, Najat Vellaud-Belkacem.

In an opinion poll commissioned for the report 55 per cent of respondents said that the practise of Islam should not be encouraged in France and that Muslims form a group apart in society.

It also found resentment of Roma and immigrants, with 69 per cent saying that there are too many immigrants in France and believing that they do not want to integrate into French life, a rise of10 per cent on 2011.

At 60,600, France received the second-highest number of political asylum requests in Europe last year, following Germany at 77,500.

The number of asylum requests to EU countries rose 10 per cent but 73 per cent were rejected.

Eight per cent of requests were from Afghans, the largest group, followed by Syrians, at seven per cent, the same figure as Russians.


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