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Thursday, April 12, 2012

“France and Race: A Question of identité”

Colonialism, Consequences: Conflict, War-made migration, fallout — one example in the West
Excerpt, minor edit by Carolyn Bennett 
From BBC Radio 4 April 10-15

“Julian Jackson explores the central issue in the current election campaign for the Presidency of France: race, religion and what it means today to be French.

“Clichy-sous-Bois [majority population Muslims of North African heritage situated a few miles from Paris’s center] is a notorious Parisian ghetto. …

“The wooded, gently rolling slopes of this borough to the northeast of the capital are stacked with residential blocks, no burned-out blocks or abandoned lots. Clichy is kempt.

“In 2005, in this almost wholly immigrant community, the deaths of two Muslim youths fleeing police sparked some of the worst and most widespread race riots seen in Europe for generations.

“There are today 5 million Muslims in France, the largest population in western Europe, largely as a result of the country's colonial past in north Africa. Since the 2005 riots, their presence has increasingly been a central issue in French society.

“In 2009, the government instituted a national inquiry, with town-hall meetings and debates that resulted in much handwringing over what it means today ‘to be French,’ not least in the light of the country’s ban on wearing the full Islamic veil in public.

“Now there is widespread belief that with the far-right National Front led by the charismatic Marine le Pen, there may be a rerun of the 2002 shock elimination by the party of one of the main contenders in the first round of voting.

“In this program, Julian Jackson, Professor of modern French history at Queen Mary, University of London, visits Clichy and meets the men and women who are at the heart of the debate — Jean-Francois Copé, chief of [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy’s UMP [center-right political party, Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire)], Harlem Désir, Socialist MP and founder of SOS Racism and Marine le Pen to discuss what being French is all about and how they reconcile the fraught arguments over race and religion.”

Sources and notes

“France and Race: A Question of Identite”
Producer: Simon Elmes; Broadcasts Tuesday April 10, 2012, 20:00, BBC Radio 4
Sunday April 15, 2012, 17:00, BBC Radio 4, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01fhysd

Wikipedia notes
Clichy-sous-Bois (formerly Clichy-en-Aulnois), located 15.8 km (9.8 mi) from the center of Paris, is a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. The vast majority of its population is made up of Muslims of North African heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clichy-sous-Bois



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