Green star worn in France to oppose debate on Islam

News Agencies – March 28, 2011

Abderahmane Dahmane, Sarkozy’s former diversity advisor called on Muslims to wear a green star to protest the debate on secularism proposed by the UMP. A statement issued by Dahmane and Hassan Ben M’Barek, spokesperson for Banlieues Respect, which presents itself as a union of associations but whose influence seems limited, said that the green star on their clothing will show that Muslims in France have decided to demand the cancellation of the debate on Islam and the end of UMP Islamophobia.

News Agencies – March 16, 2011

Religious leaders, politicians and heads of suburban organizations met at the initiative of the national federation of the Paris Mosque, the Council of Democratic Muslims in France and the Banlieues Respect Collective in order to decide on action against the planned debate on secularism.

Banlieues Respect says that such a debate will lead to laws stigmatizing Muslims, and in the spirit of inter-religious solidarity, requested the Church of France to make its empty churches available for Friday prayer, so that Muslims won’t pray in the streets and be held hostage by politicians.

As the burqa commission continues in France, 5 suburban mayors are interviewed

As the commission into the wearing of the burqa in France led by André Gerin continues, five banlieusard mayors from Monfermeil, Cachan, Rillieux-la-Pape, Clichy-sous-Bois and Gonesse were interviewed to express their positions on French secularism and the impact of a possible ban.

Generally, they noted an increase in the number of parents and students who wear the burqa and niqab in their suburbs (even if at the national level only reflects 0.5% of the population) and express concern about the effects on women’s access to public services (should a law come into place) and integration into French society (should it not).

Fadéla Amera Announces New Goals in President Sarkozy’s “Hope Suburbs” Plan

Fadéla Amera, secretary of state for urban policies in the conservative UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party, has announced new incentives for the government’s “Hope Suburbs” project. Among them are a 10% tax initiative for schools which accept students from “difficult” neighborhoods and more banlieusard (suburban-living) youths being hired at the Roissy airport. Those working on the project claim to have a pragmatic approach.

Fadéla Amara Reveals New Plans for France’s Banlieues

The secretary of state for Urban Policies, Fad_la Amara, revealed that the country will aim to launch 45,000 new jobs for the country’s young people in the next three years, centred upon those most marginal in the country’s suburbs. President Sarkozy announced the plan Hope-Suburbs (Espoir-sBanlieues) in February. The project will concentrate on 215 neighbourhoods. Amara also revealed the creation of a cohesion delegation to aid relationships between the suburban population and police. Amara announced that We have a scandalous situation in our suburbs: in some neighbourhoods, between 40%-42% of young people under 26 are unemployed. The plan also includes better access to public transportation and assistance in the education of youths.

Islam, Ethnicity and the Banlieues

The most astonishing thing about the recent riots was the surprise of the media, in France as elsewhere, at this outbreak of violence. For indeed, violence in the suburbs is nothing new. In the 1980s, the suburbs of Paris and Lyon were similarly set aflame. And in November of 2004, the violence of the suburbs broke out in the very heart of Paris when two rival gangs clashed on the Champs Elysées. Nor is the isolation of French youth a new phenomenon. Since the 1981 “rodeo riots” in the Lyon suburb Les Minguettes, social and economic conditions in the suburbs have only deteriorated, despite the often generous funding of urban development projects. It is not sufficient, however, to attribute these outbreaks of violence solely to factors of social and economic marginality. This marginality is exacerbated by a general context of urban degradation: a degradation, furthermore, which affects a very specific sector of the population. That is, the crisis of the banlieues primarily concerns first- and second-generation immigrants from the former colonies of the Maghreb. This population has frequently been treated as a separate case, not only in terms of the history and conditions of immigration, but also in terms of the politics of integration. This constant exclusion results in the fact that the issues of poverty, ethnicity, and Islam tend to be conflated, both in current political discourse and in political practice. The recent violence is but the direct consequence of the constant amalgamation of these three separate issues.