The French are more tolerant but still have racist prejudices

It’s better than yesterday. Tolerance towards minorities is improving in France. But some groups remain “stigmatized”, especially the Roma populations. This is what the National Consultative Commission for Human Rights (CNCDH) said on Monday July 18 in a report.

The institution calls for “Train and raise awareness” in the fight against prejudice, “from school to university” in its report on the state of racism in France. The document is submitted to the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in charge of Diversity, Isabelle Lonvis-Rome.

It has been published there every year since 2008 “tolerance index”, calculated by Vincent Tiberj, one of the team’s researchers, based on online and face-to-face surveys carried out by the CNCDH. This index stood at 68 in 2022 (on a scale up to 100, the maximum level of tolerance). That is two points more than in 2019 and 14 more than in 2013.

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The results are therefore generally positive. “From 1990 to 2022 […]the acceptance of minorities has generally progressed in France”. And “Since 2015, the level of tolerance seems to continue to increase”underlines Jean-Marie Burgubur, president of the CNCDH, in the annual report.

“Stigmatizing speeches have not disappeared”

However, “stigmatizing discourse with racist and xenophobic overtones has not disappeared from the public and media space”, according to the president of the institution. He adds that “the months of health crisis reactivated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and the presidential campaign was marked by the obsessive return of the security theme, likely to reinforce the reflexes of xenophobic closure and withdrawal”.

The index of tolerance by “minority” stands at “80 against blacks”, “79 towards the Jews”, “74 with regard to North Africans”, “62 against Muslims” and “52 with regard to the Roma”according to the report.

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From its investigations, the CNCDH notes that racist prejudices die hard, even if some are in decline. Thus 38% of French people think that “Islam is a threat to the identity of France” (compared to 44.7% in 2019) or 45% think that “the Roma live mainly from theft and trafficking” (48.2% in 2019). And 37% think that “Jews have a special relationship with money”up from two years ago (34.1%).

“Difficulty filing a complaint”

As in its previous report, the CNCDH recalls that racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic facts remain largely under-reported: “1.2 million people are victims each year of at least one attack (insults, threats, violence or discrimination)”notes the institution, based on the estimates of the 2019 Living Environment and Safety survey (INSEE/statistics from the Ministries of Interior and Justice).

But the following year, only 7,759 cases of a racist nature were sent to justice, according to figures from the ministry. A “black number” which is explained in particular “by difficulty” for the victims “to lodge a complaint”.

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The CNCDH makes twelve recommendations “priorities” : implement “compulsory modules in the in-service training of teachers on the fight against racism” ; adopt a “national action plan on digital citizenship training” ; better train police and gendarmerie personnel or magistrates in racist litigation.

The Commission is also calling for “human and financial resources devoted to the fight against anti-Gypsyism”with a “Government commitment to change the outlook and practices vis-à-vis the Roma populations”.

In particular, it recommends the establishment of a “school break to prevent any disruption of schooling linked to expulsion”. 1,330 evictions from informal living spaces took place in 2021. Or from “promote access to the rights of litigants”.

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Other recommendations: “the effective implementation of the online complaint as provided for by law”or even the wish that the Interministerial Delegation for the Fight against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Dilcrah) take up “truly” of the problem of discrimination in the world of work.

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