There is a disturbing kernel of truth in The Economist’s scathing view of November 7 about “the dispensable French”. It is as follows.
There is a terrible – and unaddressed – link between the Friday, the 13th attacks on Paris and the fact that most asylum-seekers don’t want to go to / or stay in France.
There is another terrible – and also unaddressed – link between this and the deprived housing estates in the suburbs of Paris and other cities.
And the fact that more than 500 French Muslims have gone to fight with jihadists in Syria and Iraq, according to experts, far more than from any other western country.
France is seen to have a problem with Muslims and to do nothing about it. When I reported on perhaps the worst race riots in France in 2005, it was obvious that no other European country had been quite as blind to minority needs. I remember a well-educated Muslim Pondicherry Indian, who spoke fluent French and had always held French nationality telling me: “The ghetto is the public face of France’s policy towards immigrants. Here they dump coloured people, different people and dirt-poor or disabled whites. No one who lives on one can ever hope to do anything in life”. He lived near one of the notorious housing estates facing unrest and there was little reason to dispute the fact that most of those who live in or near the unlovely suburbs around Paris, including Grigny, Aubervilliers, Saracelles, La Courneve, La Bourget, Clichy sous-Bois, Aulnay sous-Bois, consider them to be like concentration camps.
So, back to the way The Economist on November 7 described the asylum-seeker’s view of France. In September, it wrote, “French bureaucrats, armed with Arabic translators and loudspeakers, chartered three coaches and set off for the German city of Munich” hoping to “fill the vehicles with refugees and drive them over the Rhine to France, thus easing Germany’s load. The French had planned to take some 1,000 asylum-seekers. But in the end, only a few hundred could be persuaded to climb on board. It seemed they were not interested in French solidarity; they wanted to live in Germany. The coaches left half-empty.”