Why France is on the brink of civil war

This is the title of a blog post that’s been going round in my mind since last summer, and yesterday’s horrific attacks have compelled me to share my thoughts on this very sad subject now.

As a lover of France for 30 years, and having lived there for well over half my adult life, I am shocked, saddened and disgusted by the horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday. But I am even more worried about the future of France.

I studied French history and politics to degree level before I moved to France and witnessed what I had learnt first-hand. I have broken this blog post down into a short version and a long version, as I try and explain to those living outside of France what state the country is in now, and why.

France and immigration – short version

  • The French government invited immigrants to help rebuild France after the first and, more so, the second world war.
  • The vast majority of these immigrants came from France’s North African colonies, known as Maghreb  (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). These immigrants are commonly known as Maghrébins in French, or less politely Arabes.
  • Post WWII these immigrants were invited to settle in France with their families.
  • Problems started with the second and later generations of Maghrébins, known as the beurs.
  • These beurs were born in France and so were officially French, but they were kept in ghetto-style tower block HLMs (council estates), on the outskirts of French cities, known as the banlieues.
  • These later generations felt neither French nor North African; they were born in France but were not welcomed by the French and didn’t know their countries of origin.
  • The beurs were expected to do the same manual labour that their parents had moved to France to undertake.
  • Here comes the vicious circle: the beurs didn’t want to live in ghettoes outside of France’s cities, and they didn’t want to be forced into doing the jobs of their parents, so they started to rebel. It became commonly known that Arabes were lazy, unreliable, petty criminals and no one wanted to employ them.  In turn because no one wanted to employ them they became petty criminals and lived up to everyone’s expectations. And so the circle continued.
  • In the 70 years since the end of WWII and since the start of this wave of immigration, little has changed: most Maghrébin immigrants still live in tower blocks outside of France’s cities and are either unemployed and living on benefits, are petty criminals or carry out manual labour jobs.

France and racism – short version

  • France is an outwardly racist country. North African immigrants are commonly and pejoratively called Les Arabes in France.
  • It is usually assumed when someone has been the victim of crime that the perpetrator was an Arabe.
  • French employers have been proven to be racist when hiring – rejecting Arabic-sounding names, in favour of French ones.
  • It is hard for Maghrébins to get into bars and nightclubs in France, they are usually turned away by doormen because of the colour of their skin. (Most bar and nightclub owners would argue that this is because of previous incidents instigated by Arabes.)

The National Front – short version

  • For many years The Front National in France has been more popular than equivalent right wing parties in the UK.
  • The National Front has always been the anti-immigration political party. In 1978 their slogan was “3 millions de chômeurs, c’est 3 millions d’immigrés en trop” (3 million unemployed, that’s 3 million too many immigrants).
  • The National Front has seen a rise in its popularity recently (not unlike other extreme political parties across Europe), and Marine Le Pen is a serious presidential candidate in 2017’s elections.
  • As the number of Maghrébins increases in France, and as the feeling of fear grows stronger, so does the Front National’s power.

Feelings in France – short version

  • Fear. French people are far more afraid today than they were just 4 years ago when we still lived there.
  • Anger and resentment. The French resent the Maghrébins for taking over France and trying to make it Arabe and muslim.
  • Racism. Even the gentlest, kindest, previously most anti-racist French person is becoming racist.
  • Attraction to far-right politics. More and more “moderate” French people are openly voicing their attraction to National Front politics, whereas in the past no one ever admitted such affinities.

France and religion – short version

  • France has the largest Jewish population in the world after the US and Israel.
  • France has the largest Muslim population in Europe.
  • France is officially a secular country. In 1881 Jules Ferry made it illegal for schools to teach any form of religion at all, and in 1905 the Church and the State were officially separated.
  • Nobody in France learns anything about religions in any way, shape or form. The only exception to this is faith schools who are allowed to teach their own religions (i.e. catholic schools teach catholicism).

What does this all mean?

France is very quickly becoming polarised. On the one hand you have a growing number of North African muslim immigrants, an increase of people speaking Arabic and Halal shops/restaurants opening, which comes alongside an increase of Islamic extremism and general global fear of Islam. On the other hand you have white French people who are afraid to go out in public after dark, who are sick of immigrants and who want to fight back. Most likely under the umbrella of Marine Le Pen and her Front National.

I really, sincerely hope that I will be proved wrong, but I fear and predict a French civil war between Maghrébin immigrants/descendants and white French National Front supporters within the next 10 years.

I was very sad the day I left France as I assumed I would always live there. But as time passes I feel more and more relieved to be living in London, and raising my children in a multi-cultural society where all religions are studied at school from a young age, and where the key words are tolerance and acceptance.

What do you think? Are you a French expat who left France to escape these issues? Do you live in France and feel fear? Or maybe you totally disagree with me….do pop your comments in the box below.

For more detailed information on the key subjects of this blog post scroll down…..

France and immigration

I won’t go into a long history lesson here as I’m guessing that most people are aware that France was left a literal war-zone after the first and second world wars. The way the authorities at the time dealt with getting the country back on its feet was to invite workers from its colonies (notably North African) to come and rebuild the country. These people were often seen as strange and even dangerous. But they were seen as being a necessary evil to get France up and running again.

These immigrant workers were placed in temporary accommodation outside of the cities, to keep them separate from the French. After the second world war the immigrants that were invited into France were encouraged to bring their families and settle in the country.

Over time these North African immigrants had children, who had children. But they were still kept in their HLMs (French equivalent of council estates) in the banlieues (literally suburbs, but more like the UK inner-city politically-speaking).

It is important to remember that the original immigrants, on the whole, were happy to come to France, for them it was an improvement on where they had been, and living this way was not an issue. The big problem came with the beurs (second – and later – generations of the original North African immigrants), who were born in France, into these tower block ghettoes.

They were French but not French, they were Arabe but not Arabe. (The French use the term Arabe to refer to immigrants of North African descent, it is often used pejoratively, as people talk about “les Arabes” and “travail d’Arabe” meaning work shoddily done.)

France’s immigration problem really began with the beurs. France treated them as pretty much sub-human, refusing to offer them housing anywhere other than their ghettoes, and assuming they would continue with the same manual labour that their parents agreed to.

So a vicious circle began. The Arabes were treated badly by the French so they started to react, using crime as their weapon (theft, aggression and more). Seeing the rise in Arabe crime the French treated the Arabes worse, making it harder and harder for Arabes to break away from this vicious circle and to do something with their lives.

You will find many successful French Arabes outside of France, because they are not judged by their name, origin or skin colour in countries that don’t have this on-going prejudice.

France and racism

France is a very racist country, often outwardly racist. The French don’t lower their voices to talk about les Arabes, it is open and normal. This is something that shocked me to the bone when I first moved there in the mid-90s, despite having learnt about it at university.

For a long time I judged the French for their behaviour towards the Arabes. Until I got attacked. By an Arabe.

It was in Nice. I was 22. It was a few days before I was due to fly back to England for my university graduation. The man in question followed me and two of my (female) friends. He punched and floored one friend before turning to me and running a razor blade along the middle of my forehead, leaving a visible line that can be seen in my graduation photos, despite heavy make-up.

That night I started to understand why there was such hatred towards the Arabes. In the weeks and months that ensued I heard about more and more attacks on people – violence, muggings and similar – and 100% were carried out by Arabes.

I was not brought up to be racist, quite the contrary, but I began to fear this group of people in France.

However, through my work as a teacher in an English-language school, I met and spent time with many Maghrébins (North Africans) as I taught them English. They were the nicest of people, who were deeply saddened and disgusted by the actions of their compatriots.

So whilst I became more racist in France, it was fear of the man on the street, rather than all Arabes in general.

The National Front

The French Front National has been far more popular in previous years than equivalent British far right parties. The former National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, even made it to the second round of the French Presidential elections in 2002, where he came face-to-face with Jacques Chirac.

There has long been a head-to-head in France between the immigrants (notably maghrébins) and the French Front National.

The real problem now is that the number of maghrébins is growing far faster than the number of French. They have larger families, and France has a mostly open-door policy when it comes to immigration.

The next problem is that the Arabes are still treated badly by the French, and are still stuck in ghettoes outside the cities, in dead-end jobs.

This leads to uprising of Arabes, riots, violence and general crime.

Which brings us on to a rise in the popularity of the National Front, now under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, a far more charismatic politician than her father, Jean-Marie.

Feelings in France

In the last 6 months I’ve spent 3 weeks in France on holiday, have welcomed French friends and family to our home in London, and have discussed the current social situation in France with a wide variety of French people, of different backgrounds, regions and ages.

The general feeling of the white French people is that the Arabes are taking over, that there are more and more of them, and that they are becoming more aggressive. A general feeling of fear seems to have descended upon the French, I hear more and more friends telling me that they won’t go into their local towns/cities after dark as it’s no longer safe.

A 16 year old friend told me that in her school half of her class are maghrébin and the other half are openly National Front.

I hear friends who have been socialist and anti-racist for many years talk openly about les Arabes, the National Front’s politics and what the future holds for France.

France and religion

On top of all these problems of immigration, racism and extreme right politics is another issue. France is officially a secular country and it is illegal for state schools to teach any form of religion at all.

France has the largest Jewish population in the world after the US and Israel and the largest Muslim population in Europe, yet religious education is forbidden in French state schools. And sadly ignorance seems to be breeding intolerance.

The future of France looks very dark and very scary right now.


50 Responses

  1. disappointed says:

    I recently subscribed to your blog so I could learn more about life as a bilingual mother. I am neither French, nor Arab but I am french speaking and was hoping to pass it on to my child. Today’s post however, left me very disappointed and I’ll be unsubscribing.

    From the very beginning of your post today, I could tell you had some very disturbing beliefs about “arabes”. Especially when you wrote that France “invited” north Africans to come and live in France. How amusing. You paint the French as rather kind and benevolent to open up their country to these foreigners…forgetting of course that France tyrannically ruled the countries of these “outsiders” and had long benefited from their resources and labor.

    Please try really reading up on the history of french colonialism and France’s treatment of people in the colonies that it raped, robbed and looted for years (and still does). The history alone (not to mention their present day activities in North Africa and other french colonies) should make you develop a strong and healthy fear of the French.

    Anyway, I read on, determined to see how you would finish it…and then you got to the part about why being attacked by an arab made you fearful of them.
    The Arab man who attacked you was two things. 1) Arab 2) a man.
    Yet you chose to focus on the fact that he was Arab as the basis for your fear. Not the fact that he was a man? Why not fear ALL men then? Probably because you know that would be ridiculous right? So you chose instead to focus on his other immutable characteristic…his ethnic origin.

    If you’d been attacked by a white french man, would you have developed a fear of white french men?
    If you get attacked by a catholic man in England, will you then develop a fear of catholic men or understand why people hate catholics?

    You write “I was not brought up to be racist, quite the contrary, but I began to fear this group of people in France.”
    WOW. you may not think you’ve been brought up to be racist…but you make it seem like you were certainly brought up to think that an attack by a member of one group is therefore a reason to fear an entire group. And with this post, you are passing the same idea on to your readers and even on to your children.

    I’m glad you acknowledge that the french are openly very racist and that you acknowledge that you yourself “became more racist”.
    I (and many women I know) have had the unfortunate privilege of experiencing theft in France by a white man, sexual harassment by multiple french men, verbal abuse and stalking as well. I’ve experienced the same in England and in the US. No matter what happens to me or what I see on the news, I have come to understand that not all white men are serial killers and not all blacks are thieves and not all asians are sexual traffickers. The world just doesn’t work that way. Especially since there are far more white victims of white criminals than white victims of arab/black/asian criminals.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I am very sorry that my blog post disappointed you today and made you feel you should unsubscribe, especially as I will be sharing videos very soon with my subscribers with my tips on raising bilingual children.

      When I wrote “invited” I meant as against the immigrants arriving of their own accord, I wanted to make it clear that however France feels about immigration now they did actually invite the immigrants in.

      I am as disgusted about France’s treatment of people in its colonies as I am of the Brits’ treatment of the people in their colonies, but that’s a blog post for another day, and there was only so much I could fit into this, already lengthy, blog post.

      As I mentioned in the blog post, my “racism” came following my attack, when I heard about numerous, and I mean a lot, of friends (French and expats) in France who had been attacked over the previous year, and 100% had been by “arabes”, it wasn’t solely off the back of one attack. Staying in France for 12 more years sadly proved my point to be true, every single time I was harassed or witnessed street crime it was carried out by “arabes”, which naturally made me more fearful of them when I saw them on the street. Which I think is a fairly common human reaction.

      As I have previously mentioned I am totally honest on my blog, and as much as I would like not to be a racist when I am walking around in France, this is the case these days and sadly I know I’m not alone.

      I hope to pass on to my readers (and to my children) that the problem in France stems from a vicious circle that has built up over nearly 70 years – of the French mistreating the Maghrébins, who in turn then live up to their bad reputation. I think that both are to blame, as I hoped to convey when I talked about the French being prejudiced and putting all the immigrants in HLM ghettoes in the banlieues.

      Whenever French friends visit us we end up talking about “insécurité” and how safe they feel in London, in comparison to “back home”, and we often talk about the difference between France and its immigrants and the UK and its immigrants, and I think one of the main differences is the treatment of French immigrants, and their exclusion from society.

      As I stated in my blog post I do not think that all “arabes” are criminals, I have friends who are Maghrébins, and I have had the pleasure of teaching some truly lovely North African immigrants. But my own experience, and that of others, means that I was (and am) fearful of “arabes” that I come across in the street. But only in France, due to the treatment they have received at the hands of the French. I walk alone around London all the time, during the day and at night, and I am never fearful when doing this, even when I come across groups of black men, white men, or any other colour men. It is purely in France that I feel this fear due to the unrest and frictions across society.

      Again I am sorry that you were disappointed by my blog post, my hope was to share with readers that the French situation is complex, that there are years of problems and feelings and emotions bubbling away. But my real hope is that I will be proved wrong and yesterday’s awful attack will unite France, sadly I think that’s just blind optimism.

      • Helen McLean says:

        Phweh! What a relief to read your response… I live in Nice and have done so off and on for the past 10 years…. my love affair with France began 25 years ago ( before Nice I lived in France Profond for 5 years). My son’s father is a Nigerian whom I met at university in my home country NZ . I come from a strong left wing anti racist family that recognised the oppression of the Maoris despite the official propagander that we were a successful multiracial country.
        Yes, the French are racist as are many of the European Nations who raped and pillaged their way into colonial ownership.

        The naïveté of this blog is either a natural consequence of a middle class upbringing with little opportunity to truly mix with people of colour…. Or it is the product of a superficial or perhaps biased university education.

        People are people, are people… We bicker and gossip about ‘outsiders’ whether living in a village or a city suburb…. it’s our nasty human nature. We can keep it under control in the main during the ‘good times’ but the UK is still a class ridden society not far removed from ancient feudal times in terms of the way it’s present day robber Baron’s oppress and exploit the lower classes. Just look at the distribution of wealth and power in the UK.

        I want to say ‘It’s the economy Stupid’. But, it’s also an historical cycle…. the wages of war and exploitation throughout History. Terrorism and racial conflict are coming to the fore right now because of world economic difficulties…. In the Middle East the land boundaries set up by colonial Western powers have disintegrated and Nationalism, Religious fanaticism etc are all arising against the West…. Nazism arose after Germany was screwed into the ground by International Bankers demanding unmeetable interest payments after the WW1.
        Present day Politics and international economics reflect the times. International Organisations and banks demanding extortionate payments from poorer countries, are recreating a woeful and dangerous repetition of history fomenting defiance and rebellion. (Greece’s threat to default and break away from EU. UK’s challenge of the EU etc etc).
        All countries squeeze their poor and foreign citizens when the going gets tough… And downtrodden and exploited races periodically rise up and challenge their oppressors. It’s human nature that is at fault with it’s need to blame and find fault and point the finger at the other. racism is still rife in the USA. in fact very little changed with peace marches…it was only the 1968 street riots that got the laws changed. This too will pass…. But sadly once again probably with out the lesson learned. We need to stop pointing the finger and look at our own part in spoiling paradise.

        • Franglaise Mummy says:

          I definitely agree that those at fault are the politicians from many decades ago in France – if they had opted for integration rather that ghetto-ism, I’m sure things would be very different today. And the UK is far from perfect, the rich are definitely getting richer whilst the poor are getting poorer. However there is certainly more mixing of races, cultures and nationalities in the UK: in my daughter’s London state primary school she mixed with children of TV presenters, children living in million pound houses and children from social housing. In her class 1/3 of the children were non-white and there were at least 4 religions represented, shared and discussed in class. All of which are things I am pretty certain you would never see in France, though I’m happy to stand corrected.

          I honestly don’t know the solution and am constantly saddened and discouraged by what those in power do in our names 🙁

  2. Karen says:

    I cannot pretend to understand it all, but you’ve made it more understandable. It’s a scary and worrying situation. I wanted to take Em to Paris for a weekend, just her and I, girls trip, next month actually, but C has asked me to postpone it for a few weeks til things settle. I don’t want to live in fear, but wonder if he’s right?
    Sad, and scary, really!
    Karen recently posted…That there is a proper case of post holiday blues….My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Thanks Karen, that was my hope. It is very complex, and Hubs and I still talk about it and try to figure out why France’s immigration situation (from both sides) went this way whilst the UK’s is fairly reasonable (in my opinion). I absolutely love France and the French, but I think there are some scary times ahead for the country x

  3. Pauline says:

    Very interesting post and very well explained. I share your fear of a civil war. I was born in France and lives there for the first 20 years of my life. My mum was also born in France but my dad was born in Algeria. He and his family loved it there but then La Guerre d’Algérie started and everything changed. They were forced to leave everything behind and to board on a ship to France. They had nothing and had to start a life from scratch. They worked hard to fit into society, to get good jobs etc.
    When I went to secondary school, I was called Arabe. My family was and still is catholic so why was I called like that? Because my dad was born in Algeria and I carried a surname that reflected just that. At the time it really hurted me that even at 12 years old people could be racist.
    Although I live in England, my family is still in France. And they do live in fear.
    Every time I go home, I don’t recognised my own hometown and I do, too, fear. France has changed over the years and not for the best, I’m afraid.
    So, does my family need to leave France too? Over people who forced them to leave Algeria in the first place? Why can’t we just live in peace together?

    I love France, I am proud to be French and I always will be. But right now France is going down a path I can’t follow…

    I hope my comment makes sense to some people. I feel really sad to write it.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Oh Pauline, your comment made my eyes well up with tears. This is exactly what I was trying to get across in my blog post, you put it so well. French Maghrébins have been so badly treated for so many years that it’s not surprising that they are joining radical religious groups as an act of revenge. I, like you, love France, but France is not somewhere I can currently live. I don’t want to live in fear and I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that either party’s behaviour is acceptable or reasonable. I love the fact that my 8 year old goes to our local state school, where her class and her school is a real mix of all races, religions, nationalities and colours, and that she learns about where everyone comes from and what their beliefs are. She can’t begin to imagine what racism is as she’s never come across it, and long may that last!

  4. Oh my goodness. I was as shocked, sickened and horrified as the rest of the world with the events yesterday, but had just assumed they were an isolated incident by extremists, not that the political situation in France had got so bad. I know there are pockets of racism in the UK, but on the whole I think the UK is largely tolerant , even welcoming, of the many races and religions living here, so I am shocked at how different things are just over the English Channel.
    Thanks for sharing this, it has really opened my eyes.
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    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Thanks for your comment Sarah. Sadly France is really quite complex, and has big problems that I sometimes wonder how they’ll ever overcome. I agree with you that there is racism in the UK, but that in general I think that the Brits are fairly tolerant to other races and religions.

  5. IAN says:

    Je ne suis pas sure que cela soit mieux en Angleterre quand on voit les émeutes qu’il y a eu l’été 2011 à Londres, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham….
    C’est un problème de beaucoup plus grande échelle : montée de l’extrême droite en Allemagne, émeute noirs/blancs aux Etats-Unis et bien d’autres.
    Je veux bien que tout ne soit pas parfait en France et même loin de là mais ce n’est peut être pas la peine de noircir le tableau non plus maintenant que vous êtes partie!

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Merci pour ton commentaire. La différence est que ces problèmes de la France durent depuis des années, des décennies même. Les émeutes en Angleterre en 2011 se sont produites une seule fois – il n’y avait pas de grande insécurité ni avant ni après, tandis qu’en France l’insécurité est là depuis bien longtemps et ne cesse d’augmenter malheureusement. Il y a des problèmes de races, religions, extrême droite etc partout dans le monde en ce moment, mais pour la plupart des pays c’est tout récent. Pour la France ces sujets sont de l’actualité depuis au moins 20 ans.

      • Patin says:

        “tandis qu’en France l’insécurité est là ” …

        Tu l’écris toi même, le problème est l’insécurité en France … et je peux te dire pour l’avoir vécu (je vis à Paris depuis 20 ans) que toutes les agressions / insultes / actes de violences physiques que j’ai pu voir de mes yeux à quelques mètres de moi (et crois moi j’en ai vu pas mal) étaient TOUJOURS le fait de “magrhébins” comme tu l’écris si bien !

        Alors qu’est ce qu’on fait, on nie que le réel a eu lieu devant ces yeux ? Non !!! Ces “jeunes” et surtout leurs parents qui n’ont pas su/voulu les éduquer ont bénéficié plus que tout autre famille en France des milliards d’euros de la République française en termes de logements (quasi gratuit = HLM), d’un éducation gratuite, de soins gratuits, de réduction de tarifs dans mes transports, ciné …
        Par manque d’éducation parentale, au final ces “jeunes” délaissent l’école, détestent la France, sa culture et les français de souche il faut le dire clairement !
        Par ailleurs, tu n’es pas honnête dans ton interprétation de la situation puisque tu vois cela avec ton regard UK i.e. le “multiculturalisme”, qui n’a jamais été d’actualité chez nous ! c’est comme ça ! si ils viennent c’est pour s’intégrer à notre culture !
        He crois moi tu as l’air de louer votre modèle, mais je vous prédis également de belles désillusion dans les prochaines décennies !!!

        Tu crois sérieusement qu’en Arabie saoudite et autres pétromonarchies du golfe, les intégristes religieux de ces pays seraient aussi tolérants que les Français l’ont été depuis 40 ans en termes d’immigration/de religion (par lâcheté / trahison de nos élites politiques) ???

        A bon entendeur,

        • Franglaise Mummy says:

          Malheureusement je vois toujours pas une fin ni une solution à ce problème. Ca me rend si triste.

  6. carol says:

    We are British, living in France for 12 years. My kids are in Limoges, one at Fac, one at lycée. My son was attacked by a group of 4 Turkish lads – the police were going to prosecute my son as he basically really walloped one lad, but charges were dropped. My daughter has been picked on by ‘Arabe’ lads in her lycée (although she can defend herself verbally very well) her phone smashed, stuff stolen, and she has been physically threatened. We are British, we look British (not French) ie we are tall with red hair, we stand out. There has always been an undercurrent of racism, from local French, since we came here – and our co-patriots also settled in this area will agree, but now the ‘Arabe’ rasicm is getting worse and beginning to worry us. I would go back to UK in a heart beat, but my kids feel more French: they have many friends here and regard the UK as a foreign country. SO difficult. Thank you for your clear lesson in modern French history – not unlike the British history since the 1960s.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Thank you very much for your comment. I am very sad that your kids have had to go through this, but at the same time you confirm that I made the right choice in bringing my children back to the UK whilst they were still young. My girls are growing up in London, which is a real mix of cultures and races. My 8 year old goes to the local state school where 1/3 of her class are not white, and there is a real mix of nationalities and religions too. She has been learning about other religions since she was 3 years old in nursery school, and is totally open to all different races, religions and colours. I fear that would not have been the same had we stayed in France.

  7. Jenny says:

    Fascinating reading Sophie. I didn’t know much about the postwar French history but have noticed and wondered about the edge of town housing estates and have at times felt a deep sense of unease when visiting France. I actually found some of the Arabes quite intimidating when in Paris last year. It is scary to think of a first world country in this day and age becoming so polarised that civil war could happen. Difficult to imagine what good would come of it……

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I really really hope that it won’t come to that, but if there are not drastic changes in the near future I can’t see a peaceful end to this stand-off. It’s interesting to see that a tourist would pick up these vibes whilst just visiting too….

  8. Fatou says:

    Quand on vis dans un pays avec différentes cultures on apprend à se connaître les uns des autres et surtout à se comprendre, malheureusement la peur n’aide en aucun cas à briser les barrières.
    L’effort doit venir de chacun, d’intégrer ,de se sentir intégrer.
    Il y a des bons et des mauvais partout et il serait dommage de mettre tout le monde dans le même panier, à cause des actes irréfléchis de certains individus.
    J’ai l’amour et le cœur pour la France, mes parents proviennent du Sénégal ,même si aujourd’hui en France je ne suis pas vu comme française malgré y être née et y avoir vécue toute ma vie, ma provenance et mon vécu son qui je suis aujourd’hui, avec le mélange de culture il y a tellement de belles choses qui pourraient en sortir.
    Restons solidaire et ne laissons grangrèner le pays.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Merci pour ton commentaire. J’espère fortement que la France ne va pas tomber dans la haine suite à ces attaques, j’espère que ça aide à ouvrir les yeux et créer un pays paisible, mais je crains que je me voile les yeux là.

      • Fatou says:

        Je l’espère aussi. Quoi qu’il en soit merci pour tes blogs que je trouve très intéressants et enrichissants.

  9. Matt says:

    Sophie, I haven’t lived in France for 20 years, but I believe the real elephant in the room is the awful state of France’s economy. Compared with the UK, or even Germany, it’s incredibly expensive and difficult to do business in France and employ people, largely due to high social charges and other taxes.

    For example, if you have a restaurant and are busy, it’s generally far cheaper to buy a dishwasher than hire an employee. Even companies such as Renault and Citroen that can’t close plants for political reasons offshore the production of most parts. The economy is highly regulated, you have to go to a pharmacy to buy painkillers if you have a headache FFS.

    Now it’s a nice life if you’re a graduate, professional or have managed to get a good job with the council, but if you don’t have a great education or home life its very hard to get on in life.

    I’ve heard countless tales of people from IT entrepreneurs to scientists to ski instructors moving to places like the UK and Switzerland, even though they love France because it’s just too much hassle to do business there.

    Of course what’s happening is that the French economy is hollowing out, and pretty soon there simply aren’t going to be enough working age tax payers to keep the French health and social security systems going.

    I’m not quite sure that France will really suffer civil war, a bit more rioting maybe, the poor will get poorer and more rich will leave. But the real danger is that Le Pen gets elected and does something really dumb, like pulling France out of the Euro and the EU and putting up trade barriers. Not only will it completely screw the French economy and the lives of the French, but it will screw up the rest of Europe too.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I totally agree Matt, and the French economy/laws surrounding business and taxes are key reasons to why my French husband and I left France. Sadly we are seeing people leaving France in their droves because the system is such a mess. But who knows how to turn things around….

  10. Mari says:

    What a clear and concise post and I am inclined to agree with you but sadly it won’t be just France. I don’t want to even put in words my fears for the future to be honest and I sincerely hope I a wrong
    Mari recently posted…Roasted tomato and red onion soupMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      It is very worrying when you see/hear what is going on in the world these days. Apparently we don’t learn our lessons from history….

  11. Delphine says:

    As you said, the situation is very complex but I do think (hope ?) you are painting a dark picture here. I’m French, I’ve lived in the UK for 4 years and although I feel safe in London, I never felt unsafe in France and personally never had any problem regarding “Arabs” in Paris where I lived until I was 30.
    You are right, there are problems and unfortunately there are racist people but it hurts me when you write that France is an outwardly racist country. I don’t think it’s true at all. On April 21st 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen arrived second at the presidential election, millions of people came to the streets to shout “Nous sommes tous des enfants d’immigrés” and fight the Front National. I want to believe it would still be the same today. I have no idea how to solve these issues but I still have hope it can be done…

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      When I talk about racism I mean things like hearing people say “travail d’arabe” to describe shoddy work. Or looking at studies done – in France – of 2 identical CVs being sent in for a same job, one from Mohammed and one from Jean-Luc, where the Mohammed CVs get rejected and the Jean-Luc CVs get interviews. Or looking at how “Arabes” are refused entry into restaurants, bars, nightclubs due to the colour of their skin. To me that is outwardly racist. However having travelled a lot in France, and having friends from all over the country, I do think it is worse in some areas than in others. I also really hope the issues will be solved, I just don’t know how….

  12. Izzie Anderton says:

    I was sickened by the events in Paris earlier this week and my thoughts go out to the innocent people affected by this terrible atrocity. I had no idea that the political situation in France had become so bad, I hope for everyone’s sake that the situation doesn’t escalate further.
    Izzie Anderton recently posted…A Writers’ Blog TourMy Profile

  13. Eve says:

    As a mixed race French girl living in London, I’m too very worried about the future of the French society. France is not perfect but I found things were slowly moving with “minorities” being a bit more positively visible, for instance on TV, which is still pretty conservative in 2015. I don’t think the problem can be resumed to white and Arabs though. France is becoming a multicoloured society but yes, growing up in seemingly idyllic Southern France it is actually quite hard for someone with an “exotic” name to find a job, rent a flat, or to go clubbing if you’re a bit tanned. And you lived in Nice and Côte d’azur, where the Front National is gathering a lot of votes over the years so there racism is especially bad.
    Added to that people are scared of youth in general, so no wonder many of us have moved abroad. But I believed things were changing. And now, i wonder what will happen. So many politicians try to divide the society and after a tragedy like this I hope people won’t get fooled. But we can’t deny the issue of young men and women who grew up rejected by school, society etc and are now joining the ranks of religious fanatics. They are crazy and as we saw, completely dangerous. They shouldn’t be seen as a representation of the majority of young people with foreign origin who are living as perfectly ordinary though. I pray French people unite and keep that critical and irreverent French spirit that allows Charlie Hebdo to exist.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I really hope that this will be a wake-up call to unite France, and to find ways to resolve issues of disaffected youth in the HLMs in the banlieues.

  14. Mother Goutte says:

    I think that the problem (problems) in France is not just down to the relations between first or subsequent generations of immigrants from North Africa and other French people who have a different background. As Matt said the state of the economy is bad, which leads to tension between classes, whichever individuals are part of the different classes.

    Yes a lot of French people are racist but then a lot of French people are intolerant and not only towards immigrants but generally towards people who are different form them. I deplore this as I am French myself but unfortunately it’s true. Coluche had a knack to point this out by the way.

    My parents orginally lived in Paris and then moved to Normandy and sometimes met hostility because they were from Paris. Saying this my dad wasn’t particularly well disposed towards the Norman either, it often goes both ways…

    Another thought while I was reading your post is that ‘French’ people have got very diverse ethnic origins and I have noticed that people can easily apply labels – such as the one you explained about but I feel maybe you could have avoided repeating all throughout the post – which are not necessarily true. My dad used to often be mistaken for someone whose family was from North Africa because of the way he looks. On my mother side there is a bit of Spain thrown in the mix (my grand mother was from the South West, the Pyrenees are very close by) and probably more.

    In short, whether it’s economy, socio-cultural differences, the French mentality, the level of insecurity in France (which I’m not sure is higher than in the UK or Germany but I haven’t cjecked statistics) is just such a complex mix. It’s I think much more than the Front National, French racism and North African immigrants against the ‘French’ (whatever or whoever this is). What you describe you feel is the root problem of the French situation is certainly a part of the picture but far, far from the whole (at least that’s what I feel).

    Having agreed to disagree I’ll still follow you on Twitter and engage in healthy discussions 😉
    Mother Goutte recently posted…Translating articles : definite, indefinite, partitive, and ‘pretend’ articles that are really prepositions ! Traduire les articles : définis, indéfinis, partitifs et des mots qui ‘font semblant’ d’être des articles mais sont vraiment des prépositions !My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Thanks for your comment – there is so much more to it than I could go into in one blog post, and the economy is definitely a HUGE issue. Also I think that racism/Front National support is definitely worse in certain areas of the country than others. Now let’s hope that the horrific events in Paris recently are a catalyst to communication, unity and breaking down barriers….here’s hoping anyway.

  15. Gretta says:

    Your post and the comments are really interesting reading. I didn’t know about any of this and it makes me very sad to hear how people have been, and still are being, treated in France. I’m so grateful that in the UK our children learn about the various different religions at school.
    Gretta recently posted…Home exchange holidays: the lowdownMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      It saddened/saddens me so much to think of children missing out on this rich cultural knowledge. It’s such a shame. I’m an atheist but I think we can learn so much from each other’s religions, traditions and cultures.

  16. Jane Dieu says:

    Thank you for writing this extremely interesting post. I live in Normandy with my French husband and our daughter (after living for 9 years in Cannes) and it really got us thinking about what we want for our future and for our daughters future. We had lunch in a bistrot in Caen, and we spent 3 hours there talking about these ideas with the other people there. We came back from lunch wanting to move to London! We at least feel lucky to have the option should things get bad in France. At the moment, Caen feels like a very safe place, but it’s true that people are getting generally more and more angry at the governement (mainly the way they tax people who want to work) and it seems to me that this will inevitably lead to more civil unrest. Looking forward to hearing about your move to Mauritius! I’ve posted a link to your blog on a great facebook group called Riviera Mums as I’m sure they would find it a great read! Jane

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment and for sharing my blog in your Facebook group. I hope Caen is still feeling safe for you. I’m not really sure where we are going with politics, terrorism and social unrest these days. It all makes me very sad.

  17. Mike says:

    I’m French and I left because of these issues as well as the hate French people have against entrepreneurs. I live in L.A. Now where I don’t feel such a high tension. Yes France is a racist country led by politicians who chase the votes of these Arabs. Easy to get as soon as you know the magic words.
    I’ve had to deal with them in my businesses and I was horrified to see how far they are from the rest of the population in pretty much any subject. They have no respect for France, all they really want is to install their ‘culture’ in the country. They don’t want to mix. And French people don’t want either.
    As a human being I feel really sad about it. I was a teacher during 10 years before starting my own businesses so I’m really far from being a racist. My wife is Chinese, she could be black or whatever. But the Muslims….. This a whole different story.

    So, to answer your question, yes I’m French and I left my country to settle my family thousands of miles away. Yes I agree with you that eventually this will turn into civil war but not only because of racism. Issues in France are so dramatic and people have such a disconnected mindset. france is stuck in the early 80’s. As if the world was still the same. Yes I think that Europe isn’t a place where Muslims can mix. And this is why I left.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      It’s very sad the world we live in today. I think that the current situation with the North Africans in France stems from years, decades of being badly treated. Now that there is this vicious circle in France I really don’t know how it will end. But it makes me very sad for my adoptive country, and the country of half our family.

  18. Paul says:

    One little nitpick is that the immigrants to France until the 1960s were almost all Europeans – Italians, Spaniards, Portguese, Poles etc. Maghrébin immigration was modest until the 60s, when it then became the major wave.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      True, although I remember learning during my French degree that it started post-war as they needed manpower to rebuild the country. But it came into its own in the 60s.

  19. Paul says:

    One other thing I would like to add is that this situation is happening all over Europe, and not only France. It’s happening in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway – pretty much everywhere except for the poor countries of the east. It’s a continent-wide problem, especially with the open borders of the EU.

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      It’s a very different situation in the UK though as there is so much more integration – there are no outside city limit ghettoes of immigrants that France has built across the country. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, our eldest daughter went to a state primary school in London where she mixed with kids from million pound houses, and social houses, with children of different skin colours, races and religions. I would be surprised to see that happen in France…

  20. Rachel says:

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments – I will though. Something hit me, aside from the global situation we have with ISIS and the like, each country has it’s recipes, either for disaster or succes in so far as immigration is concerned. My ex-husband is originally from St. Denis and French, and when he was a child, (in the 60’s early 70’s), everyone was integrated and lived alongside each other, in fact as a multi-cultural society, (I am thinking of the comment made by Ian in reaction to the comparisons with England). My ex-husband remarked that problems start when this ceases to be the case: There is segregation even between the Magrebins, the Portugese, the Africans, and so-on, creating more and more division and dissention. This obviously doesn’t happen overnight. Add to that the changing face of the government which, as weak as any other government, fails to take care of the people and the coffers. Add to that the global climate…Sophie I think you are very brave because in a way, ok it is a view of someone who has relocated outside of France, but after all you did have 20 years of living experience in France. Every opinion has it’s truth. Personally, I believe laicity has been turned upside-down, (zero right to even express ones faith), fear has become that one rule works for one community but not for another. Mécontement is everywhere whether people are for or against welcoming other cultures, but the hard reality is that the only culture concerned is any connected to Islam. that I’m afraid is the truth whether it be justified or not.

    (Living and working in Angoulême since 2000)

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Since writing this blog post I have found myself stuck for words. The situation just seems to be getting worse and worse and I honestly don’t know the answer. I wish I did. A 60 something year old French friend said to me just last week “France is on the brink of another revolution” and I wonder if she mightn’t be right. But equally I look at the UK and other countries and shake my head in shame and despair as I see refugee children turned away from my country and more. What next? I really dread to think.

  21. PG says:

    Immigrants into France especially the Muslims have refused to make any effort to integrate , and have even created no-go zones in cities where there is massive crime and violence .
    Even 2nd , 3rd , and fourth generation migrants have failed to make use of the education system to integrate and adapt to life in the West , and the only people to blame are themselves .
    Muslims around the world , always blame others for their problems , and are incapable of creating a developed and just society . In most Muslim countries , Muslims have privileges that others do not have , and yet they still complain .

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