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'France must combat rising racism urgently'

The Local · 19 Feb 2015, 16:50

Published: 19 Feb 2015 16:50 GMT+01:00

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France has "issues" with intolerance, racism, and respect for the human rights of migrants, according to a new report by the Council of Europe, an independent body which aims to improve cooperation between European countries.
The Council's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, based his findings on a visit in September last year - long before the Charlie Hebdo attacks that left the nation traumatized.
He took to his official Facebook page to share his findings. 
"Despite advances in legislation and measures to combat intolerance and racism - discrimination and hate speech not only persist in France but are on the rise," he wrote.
"There is an urgent need to combat this in a sustained and systematic manner." 
Above is one of many tweets sent out by the commissioner on the topic. It reads: "I'm concerned about the increase in hate speech and in discriminatory incidents in France, including those that occur online."
In his report the commissioner claimed that France has "issues" with intolerance, racism, and respect for the human rights of migrants, travellers, Roma and people with disabilities.
"In recent years, there has been a huge increase in anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic acts," he added in a statement, stating that the fact that an increasing number of Jews are leaving France for Israel is "a telling indication of their feeling of insecurity".

"In France and in Europe, intolerance, racism, and discrimination are part of a story that began long before the crisis," he tweets above. In his highly critical report Muiznieks said Roma, Gay and disabled people also faced discrimination.

Questions surrounding France's perceived failure to integrate its minorities - with many living in communities in poor suburbs outside the country's big cities - were thrust back into the limelight by the Paris terror attacks.
The Prime Minister Manuel Valls caused a stir when he referred to the "social and ethnic apartheid" that blighted France.
Since then there has been a slew of attacks on minorities from both the Jewish and Muslim communities- most recently with hundred of tombs at a Jewish cemetery vandalized. 
There has also been attacks on mosques, with the report noting that 80 percent of the anti-Muslim incidents in France targeted women. 
Story continues below…
Indeed, this year has seen soaring statistics when it comes to incidents against minorities. The Local reported last month that anti-Semitic incidents had doubled in France, while Muslims had fallen victim to a sharp increase in racist acts. 
Another report from 2013 suggested that this week's news is part of a trend. Researchers at the time found that racist acts and threats in France had risen by 23 percent in one year.
The report from the Council of Europe also took aim at the deficiencies of France's asylum policy.
It scolded France over its mistreatment of asylum seekers, accusing French authorities of failing to deal with the crisis in Calais and not taking their share of Syrian refugees.
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