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Ethnicity and Equality

France in the Balance

Azouz Begag

Publication Year: 2007

In the fall of 2005 the streets of France were rocked by civil disturbances on a scale unseen for decades. Only months earlier Azouz Begag, France’s first minister for equal opportunities and first-ever cabinet minister of North African immigrant origin, wrote an essay laying bare the festering social and ethnic injustices that, as can now be seen in hindsight, led to the riots. This essay, published here for the first time, brilliantly documents the socioeconomic inequalities, ethnic discrimination, and political neglect that have bred a volatile generation of minority ethnic youths deeply distrustful of a society they believe has failed them.
 
Blending autobiography with sociological and political analysis, Begag shows how social peace in France depends on transforming these disaffected youths into galvanized citizens. His insights into the malaise of France’s urban ghettos offer lessons for developed countries throughout the world—and hope for the similar challenges they face.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Contents

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pp. v-

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Translator's Introduction

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pp. vii-xxii

In the fall of 2005 widespread disorders broke out in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Paris and other major French cities. Prominent among those who took to the streets were minority ethnic youths who torched thousands of cars and attacked police stations and other public buildings. The political controversy generated by the ...

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Author's Preface

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pp. xxiii-xxviii

When I became minister for equal opportunities in June 2005, I did not know that the government in which I had agreed to serve would be faced a few months later with the most serious civil disturbances seen in France in almost forty years. But, when the disorders broke out in the fall of 2005, I knew what lay behind them, for, shortly ...

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Introduction: Welcome to France

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pp. 1-6

I love Switzerland. One morning, I arrived cheerily at the train station in Geneva with my usual Arab face and little black briefcase. The previous evening I had recorded an interview for a literary program on Swiss television about my much-commented-on success story in French ...

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1. Fear of the Police

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pp. 7-24

This book may seem to have gotten off to a bad start, but I want to continue and get to the heart of the matter by recounting another anecdote that is really quite poignant. As the son of an Algerian immigrant, I've always been afraid of the police. I always felt a natural, instinctive fear rooted in a distant past that went way beyond ...

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2. Identity Comes and Goes

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pp. 25-34

Let me return now to my Arab face, my black briefcase, and my detention at the train station in Geneva. It was a classic case of discriminatory treatment based on ethnic profiling of a type that is all too commonly experienced by people who appear suspect in the eyes of customs officers at international frontiers. To try to moderate my ...

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3. Disintegration

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pp. 35-54

The eruption of the particular, of religiosity and ethnicity, into the habitual fabric of the Republic is closely linked with the ways in which urban structures have been evolving. Cities are paradoxical spaces, which seem to bring people close to each other while simultaneously generating isolation and social frustration. Cities create ...

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4. I Exists

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pp. 55-76

A few years ago a chance professional encounter led me to work with a group of French diabetes specialists on the difficulties involved in treating patients of Maghrebi origin, who account for a significant proportion of diabetics in France. This led me to study their relation with time—time spent on culture, time spent on religion, ...

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5. We Are Stronger Than You

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pp. 77-90

Conspiracy theories. Paranoia. That is what binds together gangs of young ethnics within the confines of their neighborhoods. They construct and then feed the idea that the world outside is hostile and that teachers, policemen, firefighters, bus inspectors, judges, and, by extension, all those who wear a uniform are the official ...

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6. Equal Opportunities

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pp. 91-114

If we look back on the last quarter of a century in the banlieues, we can see that Muslim girls have been by no means the only ones covering their faces. A quarter century of political neglect has spawned and nourished feelings of ethnic solidarity and factionalism among those excluded by virtue of the color of their face. There is ...

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7. Counting Origins

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pp. 115-122

While greater social mixing is certainly needed, ethnic monitoring is no easy matter. In the United States, besides the problems associated with quotas, there are serious difficulties concerning the definition of ethnic groups and the extent to which particular individuals ...

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Conclusion: Get Moving!

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pp. 123-128

While greater social mixing is certainly needed, ethnic monitoring is no easy matter. In the United States, besides the problems associated with quotas, there are serious difficulties concerning the definition of ethnic groups and the extent to which particular individuals ...

Notes

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pp. 129-138

Glossary

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pp. 139-142

Index

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pp. 143-151


E-ISBN-13: 9780803206915
E-ISBN-10: 0803206917

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2007