Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:36AM
Racism is on the rise in France. Many observers say this has triggered an identity crisis in the country's republican ideology. A group of young French people of non-European origin has started to give awards for the most racist remarks by prominent French figures, including media personalities and political leaders.
This is a modern and central district of Paris. People of all origins and all walks of life make up the population of the biggest country in Western Europe. Officially France does not recognize race or religion as a person’s identity, but some of the country’s prominent personalities have been doing exactly the opposite. And they have received the Y’a Bon Awards for the most racist remarks. The leader of the biggest Opposition Party, Jean Francois Cope said last year: "There are neighborhoods in France where cahildren can't eat their pain au chocolat or chocolate pastry because it's Ramadan." His words were seen by many French as Islamophobic because they showed his belief that Muslims force young children to follow Ramadan fasts. Franck Tanguy, a media personality said “Very frankly, when I see a bearded man wearing a Jellabah crossing a road, I feel like accelerating.” His comments were a direct attack on North African Muslims living in France. For millions of French from former colonies in Africa and Asia, discrimination is a part of life. Being successful requires extra amounts of determination and courage to fight negative clichés almost every day. It was a left party politician who first called for a ban on the burkha or veil. Ethnic minorities believe, the French political class is obsessed with religion. Racism and xenophobia are punishable under French law. And yet, the biggest offenders are walking scot free.