Opinion: Immigration Policies Have Fostered Muslim Radicalism

November 7, 2005

Source: The Times


On November 7, 2005 The Times ran an opinion piece by Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for The Times, on the fallout after the riots in Clichy. Bremner writes, "The biggest explosion of street violence in France since the late 1960s has jolted the country into confronting its failure to include its seven million residents of Arab and African origin in the national mainstream... Under the ethnically colour-blind 'French model', the immigrant workers who came in the 1950s and 1960s from the former colonies in North and black Africa were to be regarded as equal citizens. They and their descendants would take advantage of the education system and generous welfare state to assimilate with 'white' France. To promote the idea of assimilation, neither the State nor any other body publishes statistics on ethnic or national origin. In practice, France turned its back on the minorities, shunting them into suburban cités [and] denying access to the so-called ascenseur social (social elevator) that was supposed to lift immigrants into the mainstream. Unemployment on the estates is up to three times the 10 per cent national average. Laws supposed to promote integration and oppose multiculturalism, such as the ban on Muslim headwear in schools, have often heightened resentment and the feeling of exclusion. This has in turn fed the rise of Muslim radicalism, which has now become the dominant creed of the young in the French ghettos."