• France's news in English

France unveils plan to fight 'intolerable' racism

Ben McPartland · 17 Apr 2015, 16:34

Published: 17 Apr 2015 16:34 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The French government revealed on Friday a list of 40 measures for how it plans to crackdown on racism and anti-Semitism.

The measures, that will set the government back around €100 million are centred on the areas of the internet, schools and on toughening the law itself.

"Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an intolerable manner," Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil,  the scene of a brutal attack on a Jewish man and his girlfriend in December.

And in reference to those who fire off racist abuse on social media and other online platforms Valls said: "Passivity on the internet, it's over."

He said the plan provides for an establishment of "a national unit in the struggle against hate on the internet" and it will require require web hosting services to "have legal representation in France."

The move comes just over three months after the Paris terror attacks which prompted a spike in both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic acts.

On Thursday, the country's Islamophobia watchdog said anti-Muslim acts had lept six-fold in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2014.

It also comes just two months after a damning report from the human rights watchdog The Council of Europe which concluded that the French public are becoming more racist and more intolerant towards minorities.

Essentially the government wants to stiffen the punishment on those found guilty of hate speech.

In the past, these cases were dealt with under France’s more lenient press laws, but now they will be dealt with through the stricter penal code, which will mean justice will be meted out quicker and the penalties will be tougher.

READ ALSO: 'France must combat rising racism urgently'

'France must combat rising racism urgently'
A marketplace in northern Paris. Photo: Admanchester/Flickr

Also any act that had an aggravating factor of anti-Semitism will also prompt tougher sanctions.

Much of the Islamophobic and anti-Semitic abuse is dished out online and the government wants to crackdown on those who “circulate racist words” on the web.

Their main weapon will be to block certain sites, as is already the case for those sites that glorify terrorism.

The main emphasis of the government’s drive to stamp out racism will focus on young people, hence the presence alongside Valls on Friday of the Minister of Education Najat-Vallaud Belkacem.

Story continues below…

In schools, teacher training will be reinforced, head masters will be encouraged to report incidents, and students will visit various relevant memorial sites during their school years.

Group action law suits will also be allowed "to better fight against any discrimination."

Another aspect of the plan will be to offer a financial boost to charities involved in fighting racism.

“We need to show them that they are not alone,” said the Prime Minister’s office this week.

The €100 million ($108 million), will be used over three years to finance a large-scale communications campaign and various local-level initiatives.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available