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France saw a rise in all types of racism in 2023, says report


Racism and intolerance are on the rise in France, fuelled by the war in Gaza and far-right ideas in public debate. This observation has been made in the just published annual report of France’s human rights commission, the CNCDH.

The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme – CNCDH) is the French national institution for human rights, established in 1947 in Paris.

The far-right National Rally (RN) is leading in the polls for upcoming legislative elections, running on a platform that proposes restricting the rights of immigrants in France. According to the CNCDH, this is in “frontal opposition to the principles of equality, fraternity and freedom” enshrined in the French Constitution and will embolden racist opinions.

The RN won 88 seats in the 2022 legislative elections, becoming the second-largest party in Parliament, and 30 seats in the European Parliament in the EU vote earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron’s government has shifted to the right on security, identity and immigration issues.

The Gaza war has triggered a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in France, as in other parts of the world.

“The year 2023 was marked by a strong progression in the rejection of the Other, whether in opinions or in acts,” the CNCDH report said.

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“The Israel-Palestinian conflict regularly triggers (antisemitic) acts, which peak in relation to the operations carried out by the Israeli army in Palestinian territories. But this level is unprecedented,” CNCDH said.

“The immigration law that was proposed by the government in February 2023 and contained echoes of (the RN’s idea) the ‘national preference’ and the debates surrounding it amplified this xenophobic trend,” it said.

The findings of the report are significant. Reports of antisemitic and anti-Muslim acts increased by 284% and 29% respectively, while other types of racist acts increased by 21%.

More than half, 51 per cent of survey respondents from the general population don’t feel at home in France anymore, compared to 43 per cent of French citizens in 2022, which the report authors link to a rejection of immigration. This sentiment rises to 91 per cent among RN supporters.

It is worth noting that 43 per cent of French residents surveyed think that insecurity is mainly due to immigration, compared to 83 per cent of RN supporters.

As many as 69 per cent do not support the RN’s “national preference” idea that French people should be favoured for jobs, benefits and housing over foreigners.

(With Inputs From Reuters)