An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Unemployment and discrimination in France cause of Riots


Unemployment is high in estates which are home to many Muslims

Days of rioting in the bleaker suburbs of Paris have highlighted discontent among many French youths of North African origin.

As part of a series on French Muslims, the BBC News website’s Henri Astier looks at the issue of discrimination, a leading source of frustration in France’s unemployment-riddled ghettos.

Sadek recently quit his job delivering groceries near Saint-Denis, just north of Paris. He was tired of climbing stairs with heavy bags.

Sadek, 31, has a secondary school education and aspires to something better. But he knows his options are limited: “With a name like mine, I can’t have a sales job.”

Telemarketing could be a possibility – his Arab roots safely hidden from view. Of course, he would have to work under an assumed name.

Sadek’s story sums up the job prospects of the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants.

They may be French on paper – but they know that Ali and Rachid are much less likely to get ahead than Alain or Richard.

Racial discrimination is banned in France. But a quick look at the people working in any shop or office suggests the practice is widespread.

The impression is confirmed by official statistics.

Unemployment among people of French origin is 9.2%. Among those of foreign origin, the figure is 14% – even after adjusting for educational qualifications.

Closed doors

The pressure group SOS Racisme regularly highlights cases of employers discarding applicants with foreign names.

It says such discrimination is particularly rife in the retail and hospitality industries – but also for jobs involving no contact with the public.

“Some companies believe that to be responsible for marketing you must have roots in mainland France over several generations to understand the French consumer attitudes,” according to a recent SOS Racisme report.

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