Monday, September 28, 2009

Account of French racism

"An extraordinary article appears in today’s Le Monde revealing the extent to which racism is still a major problem in French society. Mustapha Kessous is a thirty year old journalist at Le Monde. He is of Arabic orgin as his first name clearly implies, yet for years now he does not identify himself as Mustapha over the phone. He simply calls himself “Mr. Kessous”. The response is invariably more positive. Kessous lists an astonishing number of examples that demonstrate how he is treated differently because of his origins. In 2008 he went to interview Brice Hortefeux and when the then Immigration Minister came to greet him outside his office, he jokingly said, “Do you have your residency papers?” Hortefeux has recently been criticized been dragged over the coals by the media for a very similar comment made to a young Arabic-French man which was caught on camera. During the Tour de France, Kessous was sent with another white journalist from Le Monde to cover the event. He was confused by organizers of the Tour for being the driver for his colleague. Kessous also recounts trying to rent an apartment in Paris and how giving his first name would often get a negative response – “Oh the apartment has already been rented!” In the end he brought a friend with him, a blonde woman who he presented as his girlfriend who was going to live with him – this seemed to reassure landlords…" (thanks Hadjar)