First French racism survey released

31st January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 31, 2007 (AFP) - More than half of blacks in France say they fall victim to discrimination on a daily basis, according to the results of the first ever survey of French blacks released Wednesday.

PARIS, Jan 31, 2007 (AFP) - More than half of blacks in France say they fall victim to discrimination on a daily basis, according to the results of the first ever survey of French blacks released Wednesday.

The survey commissioned by a black advocacy group, the Representative Council of Black Associations, and conducted by the TNS-Sofres polling firm estimated that 4 percent of France's adult population is black, totalling 1.865 million.

Releasing the survey, the Council called for more data on French minorities, arguing that the state's refusal to collect information on its citizens' racial background was compounding the problem of racism in France.

"For a long time, we were told there wasn't a problem because there weren't any figures," said Patrick Lozes, the president of the Council.

"This survey is a diagnosis," said Lozes, a French-educated pharmacist who was born in Benin. "These statistics show what this society does not want to hear or see."

A total of 56 percent of French blacks said they were victim of racial discrimination in their daily lives and an even higher percentage -- 61 percent -- said they had endured at least one incident of discrimination over the past 12 months, according to the survey.

More than a third of respondents said they had been exposed to "disdainful, contemptuous or disrespectful" attitudes and close to one in four said they were insulted or verbally abused.

The release of the survey came amid a push by blacks to put racism squarely on the agenda of the campaign for the French presidency ahead of the April and May votes.

Lozes cited poll results showing that only 29 percent of blacks trust politicians and said "political leaders have a long road to follow if they want to reach us."

Right-wing presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, whose lead in public opinion polls has recently been strengthened, has come out in support of some form of affirmative action.

His main rival, Socialist Segolene Royal, has not laid out specific proposals to help minorities but recently told supporters on a campaign swing through Guadeloupe and Martinique that France should do more to embrace its diversity.

The Council wants guaranteed representation of blacks in parliament and government. There are currently no blacks in government and no deputies in the National Assembly elected in mainland France.

But calls for affirmative action or quotas for minorities have irked many in France who champion the nation's model of a colour-blind nation that emphasizes integration.

Racism and integration have become front-burner issues following rioting in Paris suburbs in late 2005.

The racism survey was conducted from January 3 to 23 with some 13,000 respondents, 500 of which declared themselves black.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Racism

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