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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La France accusée de racisme

by Damien Roustel

UN Special Commissioner Accuses France of Racism

Translated Saturday 17 November 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

A United Nations racism expert condemns Nicolas Sarkozy’s policies.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech on Africa, delivered on July 26, 2007, continues to arouse indignation. Doudou Diène of Senegal, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, has accused the president of France of pursuing “a dynamic of legitimizing racism” during the November 7 session of the UN General Assembly. “The Dakar speech has dealt a profound blow. Telling African intellectuals that they haven’t entered history is a founding stereotype of racist constructions of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries,” Diène explained. The passage from the speech that continues to rankle is the one in which Nicolas Sarkozy said that “the drama in Africa, it is that the African has never really entered history” and that “he never launches himself towards the future.”

Doudou Diène also condemned the French president’s immigration policies. “The recent bill introducing DNA tests in the administrative procedure for candidates for family reunification constitutes an illustration of this stigmatization of immigrants,” Diène added. The ambassador of France vigorously contested Diène’s words. “France has long been a nation that has been able to enrich itself culturally from successive waves of migrants from all over the world,” he retorted.

The special rapporteur recommended the creation of a UN monitoring group on all forms of racism, similar to the European monitoring group on racism and xenophobia that was set up in Vienna in 1997.

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