Minister wants to see 'true face of France'

18th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 18 (AFP) - France's minister for equal opportunities urged the government to allow a study of ethnic diversity in the workplace to reveal "the true face of France", in an interview published on Friday.


 PARIS, Nov 18 (AFP) - France's minister for equal opportunities urged the government to allow a study of ethnic diversity in the workplace to reveal "the true face of France", in an interview published on Friday.

Under French laws intended to prevent discrimination, government bodies and private companies are currently forbidden from collecting data on citizens' and workers' ethnic or religious background.

Arguing that racial discrimination was the key reason for the past month's wave of rioting by youths of immigrant background, Azouz Begag called in an interview with the conservative Le Figaro newspaper for a change to the regulations.

"We need to see the true face of France," he said, calling for new data to "measure the presence of people from immigrant background" in the public and private sectors, and particularly in the police force and the magistrature.

Begag suggested that government statistics agencies should be allowed to collect information on workers' families, such as where their grandparents were born, to create a picture of diversity and "a basis to act upon".

In an address to the nation this week, president Jacques Chirac called for France to combat the "poison" of discrimination, although he announced no specific measures for studying the problem.

Critics charge that the French republican model, which holds that all citizens are equal under the law regardless of their ethnic origin, has allowed racial inequalities to develop unchecked.

Many of the youths involved in the three weeks of rioting across France were children of north and west African who complain of economic marginalisation and racial discrimination.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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