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Racist and xenophobic incidents in France rise by 130 percent

In France, some 1 142 racist and xenophobic incidents were counted in 2019, suggesting an increase of 130 percent.

Published: January 27, 2020, 9:12 am

    After a decline in the last two years, these incidents are rising sharply, with 1 142 facts recorded, against 496 in 2018, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

    The figure has more than doubled in one year. The number of racist and xenophobic acts has increased sharply in 2019, according to a report by the Interior Ministry made public on Sunday. “For the most part, these facts fall under the category of ‘threats'”, the Place Beauvau noted, specifying that 977 recorded facts fall into this category.

    In 2019, 687 acts of an anti-Semitic nature were also noted, compared to 541 in 2018. But according to the Ministry of the Interior, the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 mainly consists of “threats” while actual attacks have decreased sharply. “Threats” may include threatening words or gestures, inscriptions, leaflets and letters.

    The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the increase in anti-Semitic acts in 2019 “can be explained exclusively by the increase in threats, up to 50 percent compared to 2018, while actions having meanwhile decreased by 15 percent”.

    “The most serious incidents, the attacks on people, are even in sharp decline, by 44 percent,” according to Place Beauvau.

    As far as anti-Christian incidents are concerned, their number was stable over the year, with 1052 identified incidents, which break down into 996 actions and 56 threats. The actions counted essentially consist of attacks on religious property, specified the Ministry of the Interior.

    As for anti-Muslim acts, their number remains very low, with 154 incidents, which break down into 63 actions and 91 threats. But it is up compared to 2018, when there were 100 incidents.

    Meanwhile, member of Parliament Joachim Son-Forget revealed the ethnic profile of the racial insults on social networks against him. He is a South Korean-born, French politician and professional radiologist. Since 2017, he has been a member of the French National Assembly – the lower house of the French Parliament – representing French residents overseas. He works part-time as a radiologist in Switzerland.

    “I would like someone to explain to me why among the racial insults I receive on the networks there is a ratio of 20/1 between those who have names/photos which evoke a North African vs Caucasian origin. It saddens me most, I have friends all over this world,” he tweeted.

    Son-Forget was recently kicked out of President Macron’s LREM party because he had met with Marion Maréchal informally.

    For the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, and the Secretary of State, Laurent Nuñez, “expressions and acts of hatred, whether they aim at a religious origin or belonging, whether they take the form of violence physical or fall under the verbal threat, constitute an intolerable attack on our common project, on the foundations of our social and republican pact”.

    And while racist attacks have increased, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister have respectively lost support by four and three points.

    This is also a somewhat brutal new setback for the executive. Two months before the municipal elections, the LREM clan suffered a disappointment in the last survey ordered by the French weekly JDD and the FIFG.

    With the pension strikes which has increased tensions in recent weeks, one might have thought that Edouard Philippe would be most in danger, since he has been the public face in defense of the reforms.

    But it is indeed the President of the Republic who has recorded the sharpest decline in his popularity rating: -4 points, or only 30 percent of favorable opinions. The Prime Minister recorded a decline of three points and dropped to 33 percent of favorable opinions.

    For Emmanuel Macron it is a return to the Yellow Vest crisis. Since then, he had been above 32 points.
    Currently some 68 percent are dissatisfied with the Head of State and it is especially among the young voters that the president has lost support (-11 points) as well as with intermediate professions (-11 points).

    “For the first time in a very long time, the decline in the popularity of Emmanuel Macron comes from strong categories: the segments that supported the action of the President of the Republic,” explained Frédéric Dabi, of the FIFG. Emmanuel Macron also lost six points among senior managers and four among retirees. “The pension reform has reactivated recurring criticisms: deafness and disconnection,” Frédéric Dabi pointed out.

    As for Edouard Philippe, the drop is also accentuated among young people (-6 points among 18-24 year olds and -5 among 25-34 year olds). Edouard Phillipe had not reached such a low level (62 percent are dissatisfied) since April 2019.

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