Opinion: French Need to "Start Getting Used to" Differences

November 6, 2005

Source: TIME Magazine


On November 6, 2005 TIME Magazine ran an opinion piece by Médine, a Muslim rapper from Le Havre, on the recent riots in Clichy, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris. Médine writes, "The people who live in projects like those where last week's riots raged are treated as second-class citizens. We have less access to the rights and services of the republic--schools are run down; job opportunities are remote. What we do have is a supermarket, a mall for low-cost shops, a few fast-food joints and maybe a movie complex. That's it. The idea is to create just enough diversion so we stay where we are... Before Sept. 11, I would have said this was a kind of residual racism... Today, with many young people returning to religion as they start searching for their own identities, faith is becoming the difference that's most often pointed out. I'm not just a black guy or an Arab anymore; I'm a Muslim. And that's a code word for alien, someone who's determined not to fit in. But I was born and raised in France. I've been a citizen since birth. How much more French can I be?... It's time for the French to reject those outdated labels. And it's time for minorities to reject the cult of victimization too... We need to make peace with the things that make us different. I'm French, I'm Muslim, and there are millions like me. We live here, and we're not going anywhere. So let's start getting used to it."