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'Racism against immigrants in France'

world Updated: Oct 04, 2007 12:43 IST
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Slamming the "widespread, entrenched and institutionalised discrimination" against minority immigrants in France, a United Nations independent expert has asked its government to enact policies to check racism in the country.

"Racism is alive, insidious and clearly targeted at those 'visible' minorities of immigrant heritage, the majority of whom are French citizens," the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay J McDougall, said in a statement.

"Young people's hopes and dreams are being denied; they see no possibility of upward mobility because of their skin colour, their religion, their surname or their address (in what's called the sensitive suburbs)," said McDougall, who visited France from September 19 to 28.

Many victims of discrimination are stranded in "socially and geographically isolated urban ghettos," where unemployment is as high as 40 per cent, she noted. "They feel discriminated against and rejected by rigid notions of French national identity to which they do not conform."

The expert also voiced concerned regarding statements made during the recent electoral period by French political leaders and candidates which she characterized as "unwelcoming at best and racist at worst."

"The Constitutional promise of equality is the vision, but not the reality of modern France," she stated. "France's leaders must live up to that promise."

She urged authorities to make concerted efforts towards an acceptance of cultural diversity.