Poll: 30% of French people consider themselves racist

Racist and anti-Semitic crimes decreased overall in '05; anti-racist sentiment also appeared to be on the decline.

eiffel tower 88 (photo credit: )
eiffel tower 88
(photo credit: )
Some 30 percent of French people consider themselves at least somewhat racist, according to a report submitted to the government Tuesday, prompting concerns that racism is becoming socially acceptable. The figure was up from 25% a year ago, according to an annual poll on France's attitudes toward racism commissioned by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights. The poll took on extra significance this year, following riots in depressed suburbs between police and youths from largely immigrant families. It also comes amid heightened concerns about anti-Semitism in France after the brutal kidnapping and killing of a young Jewish man south of Paris in January. The human rights commission expressed alarm at the "lifting of a taboo" against racist inclinations, and noted an "important drop" in the overall sensitivity to racist issues. While the report noted that racist and anti-Semitic crimes decreased overall in 2005, it said anti-racist sentiment also appeared to be on the decline. Three in ten respondents considered themselves racist or somewhat racist. Only 32% said they would report racist behavior to the police, down from 50% the year before. Thirty-nine percent said businesses convicted of racist acts should be boycotted, down from 53% in 2004. Racist or anti-Semitic violence and threats were down last year, however, to 974 cases compared to 1,574 in 2004, the report said. Anti-Semitic crimes saw the greatest drop, 48%. At the same time, the number of convictions for racist and anti-Semitic crimes jumped 43% in 2005, the justice minister said last week. "Our society as a whole has perhaps not been vigilant enough in the face of racism and anti-Semitism," Pascal Clement said in releasing the conviction figures. While the human rights commission praised the overall police response to the crimes, it said more could be done to combat and prosecute racism. The CSA polling agency interviewed 1,000 people nationwide by telephone in mid-November, during the suburban riots, and in mid-February. No margin of error was given.