• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Racist hate speech has 'become routine in France'
Photo: AFP

Racist hate speech has 'become routine in France'

Ben McPartland · 1 Mar 2016, 14:15

Published: 01 Mar 2016 14:15 GMT+01:00

In its fifth report on France, the Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), expressed renewed concern around the rise of racist hate speech and intolerance.

In particularly the Commission, which acts as a human rights monitoring body, pointed to how racist speech and outbursts have become all too routine among politicians and other public figures.

The Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said: “Hate speech has become commonplace in the public sphere” and “remains a matter of concern”.

“I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatise already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society,” said Jagland.

The report, which comes amid a huge rise in Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks, pointed the finger at those French politicians whose political discourse has been used to target both Roma and Muslim communities.

Even the current Prime Minister Manuel Valls was reprimanded for his comments made in March 2013 about Roma people having “no interest in integrating in France”.

French Mayor and MP Gilles Bourdouleix was also pulled up for his comments about Roma made in July 2013, when he was recorded saying “Hitler didn’t kill enough”.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen was singled out for picking on Muslims, particularly with her rants against the distribution of halal meat and comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation.

And Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicains party were chastised for hosting its “conference on Islam” last year, which was boycotted by many Muslim groups.

And there was the infamous recent case of MEP Nadine Morano repeatedly insisting "France was a country of white race."

“ECRI is concerned about this situation, which is helping to trivialise the stigmatisation of these vulnerable groups,” the report read.

SEE ALSO: The most outrageous comments by French politicians

The Commission also blasted French politicians who “adopt a narrow conception of secularity and come up with proposals perceived as giving rise to discrimination,” notably French mayors and MPs who have called for “pork or nothing” menus for pupils in schools.

The report is just the latest in a long line of independent surveys that have highlighted the rise of racism in France.

Last February Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muznieks issued a report that concluded the French were becoming more and more racist and urgent action was needed.

And in April last year a group of UN experts also condemned the “trivialisation” of hate speech in France and the general treatment of the Roma community.

The ECRI also expressed concern over the high level of under-reporting of racist crime and cuts in budgets earmarked for integration policies.

The body called on the French government to change the law so that racism or homophobia are seen as aggravating circumstances of any ordinary crimes.

Story continues below…

The Commission also called on France to undertake two specific measures:

*revise school curricula and teacher training programmes to promote a better understanding of issues relating to religion and immigration; 
* ensure that no legitimate residence (“domiciliation”) application submitted by members of groups such as Roma is turned down and reduce processing times so that these persons can be given access to basic rights.

There was however some praise for France for having taken steps to act on the Commission’s previous report back in 2010.

It pointed to the government’s 40-point plan unveiled in April last year that was aimed at cracking down on racism and anti-Semitism.

The government set aside €100 million to aid the fight, which included steps to fight online racism and intolerance.

French authorities were also praised for prosecuting the perpetrators of hate crimes.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Priest killed as knifemen take hostages at French church
Photo: AFP

Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before being shot dead by police on Tuesday.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Nice attack: Two more suspected accomplices held
Photo: AFP

One of the arrested men was reportedly in a photo with the killer beside the truck used in the attack.

Nice security row rumbles on as minister files lawsuit
Photo: AFP

Despite the efforts of the French president the controversy over the security arrangements on the night of the Nice attack won't go away.

Air France strike to see 30 percent of flights grounded
Photo: AFP

Here's what to do if you are affected by the one-week Air France strike that begins on Wednesday.

Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

Videos of hundreds of people sprinting through a park would normally be cause for panic in France at the moment.

The ten places where you really need to speak French
Photo: Lily A./Flickr

There are some places and situations in France where you just have to speak French.

Isis can be a conduit for psychopaths' violent desires
A pilce of rubbish marks the spot where Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot by police.

Isis did not create these attackers, they were well on their way.

Angry Marseille Muslim ends up in war of words with Isis
Photo: Facebook Henni Mohamed/AFP

"Who do you think you are, the Power Rangers?" Marseille man's foul-mouthed fighting talk provokes Isis to respond.

Thousands of travellers face seven-day Air France strike
Photo: mariordo59/Flickr

The strike is set to run from July 27th to August 2nd and as many as 130,000 passengers could be affected.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
2,766
jobs available