Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2014, 13:28 GMT

Chronology for Muslim (Noncitizens) in France

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Muslim (Noncitizens) in France, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f388bb.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Mar 1990 The National Front, a right-wing anti immigration party led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, is accused repeatedly of fomenting racial violence by exploiting fears about France's Muslim (mostly North African) immigrants. This accusation is made often and will not be listed here unless otherwise noteworthy.
Mar 10, 1990 Angry protests occur in Saint Flaentin, southeast of Paris, after 2 North Africans are shot. One dies a few days later.
Mar 12, 1990 More than 5000 march through Roanne in central France in memory of a 17 year old of Moroccan descent killed in a racist incident.
Mar 13, 1990 President Mitterand speaks out against racist hatred after attacks on immigrant youths leave one dead, one in an irreversible coma and one paralyzed. French North African leaders also speak out against racist politics and violence. Note: President Mitterand and his government as well as members of France's North African community often speak out against racist politics and violence. These declarations will not be listed here unless they are otherwise noteworthy.
Mar 14, 1990 An Islamic center in Rennes is damaged by a bomb.
Mar 17, 1990 About 1000 march through central Paris in a protest against racism.
Mar 28, 1990 A government report warns against rising racism in France.
Mar 29, 1990 An opinion poll shows that while 12% of French voters support the racist National Front, 31% support its policies on immigration including repatriating immigrants, mostly North Africans.
Jul 18, 1990 Following an army report that Arab conscripts suffer from relative discrimination in the French armed forces, the French Defense Minister orders the army to improve the conditions for Arab recruits.
Oct 7 - 11, 1990 More than 500 youths riot, loot and clash with police in a suburb of Lyon predominantly populated by North Africans after a local youth dies by falling from a motorcycle when a police car swerved in his path. The riots continue for several days.
Nov 10, 1990 Two Arabs are hurt when French paratroopers in masks and civilian clothes attack passers by in a North African suburb of Carcassonne in revenge for the wounding of a fellow paratrooper by a local Algerian in a bar room brawl.
Nov 12, 1990 Teenagers loot and riot in a suburb of Paris predominantly populated by North Africans.
Nov 18, 1990 Youths clash with police in a suburb of Paris predominantly populated by North Africans during an otherwise peaceful protest by high school students demanding a better education.
Dec 31, 1990 Immigration to France rose 10% this year with 40% of about 100,000 immigrants coming from North Africa.
Jan 27, 1991 A small bomb explodes outside of a building housing offices of immigrant associations, including several North African associations, in Marseille.
Mar 27 - 29, 1991 Riots erupt in a suburb of Paris predominantly populated by North Africans after the killing of a Moslem youth by a security guard.
Mar 30, 1991 500 to 1000 peacefully march in a suburb of Paris predominantly populated by North Africans in protest of the killing of a Moslem youth by a security guard.
Apr 1, 1991 Gangs of mostly North African youths riot in Lyon.
May 25, 1991 About 5000 demonstrators, mostly immigrants, march through Paris in protest of the government's immigration policy during a month-long hunger strike by Turks, Kurds and Africans seeking political asylum.
May 26 - 29, 1991 Riots occur in a suburb of Paris predominantly populated by North Africans. A youth arrested in the riots dies in police custody from an asthma attack causing hundreds of protestors to march through Paris.
Jun 12 - 13, 1991 Prime Minister Cresson presents an emergency plan to provide 1000 extra jobs for disadvantaged youth of North African decent and clear instructions for French police as well as a summer camp-training scheme. The government also announces that it will build 1000 sports grounds in areas predominantly populated by North Africans in order to ease racial tensions.
Jun 15 - Jul 15, 1991 Harkis (people descended from Algerians who came to fight for France in World War One and are French citizens) maintain roadblocks in southern France to draw attention to the special problems of their community. The French government eventually promises to deal with their problems.
Jun 20, 1991 Right-wing leader Jacques Chirac causes a stir when he complains about "the noise and smell" made by Arab and African immigrants.
Jul 1991 Bowing to opinion polls and public anger over violence in immigrant ghettos, the government warns that it will now forcibly deport illegal immigrants. This marks the beginning of a general crackdown on illegal immigrants and labor.
Jul 25 - 26, 1991 Harkis clash with police in the southern French town of Marbonne.
Aug 18, 1991 Harkis take over a motorway toll booth in southwest France asking passing motorists to contribute to their campaign for better jobs and living standards. This is part of a larger campaign by Harkis of setting up roadblocks and occupying government buildings.
Oct 16, 1991 France announces plans to relax rigid rules on how parents may name their children. Until now, names must be from Christian saints or historical figures. This was done in recognition of the growing North African community's desire to name their children with names from their own ethnic background.
Oct 17, 1991 3000 activists march in Paris to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the massacre of 200 Algerians who were demonstrating against French colonial rule.
Nov 30 - Dec 1, 1991 French Arabs clash with police in the northern town of Amiens.
Dec 31, 1991 Racist attacks in 1991 include 41 against North Africans.
Jan 5, 1992 Several thousand Algerians demonstrate in central Paris against fundamentalism in their home country after the electoral success of the Islamic Fundamentalist FIS party in first round of elections in Algeria. This electoral success of Algerian Islamic fundamentalists gives rise to fears among the French populace of a new wave of immigration from Algeria. The National Front suggests that the only way to stop Islamic fundamentalism from spreading to France is to repatriate around one million Algerian immigrants.
Jan 6, 1992 France's first Islamic theological college opens.
Jan 10, 1992 Muslim conscripts in the French army are now able to eat religiously approved "halal" meals. In addition to conscripts who serve 10 months' compulsory national service, the French army includes about 5,000 Muslims of North African extraction.
Jan 11, 1992 French police break a major immigration smuggling ring from Morocco to Italy via France and arrest 154 illegal immigrants.
Jan 16, 1992 Reuters reports that French prison authorities have had to separate immigrant prisoners, mostly of North African extraction, from European prisoners in order to preserve the peace.
Jan 17, 1992 Amnesty International protests an amendment to a French immigration law which will allow French police to hold suspected illegal aliens in "target zones" for a month while authorities investigate their asylum requests.
Jan 25, 1992 Between 25,000 and 100,000 anti-racist demonstrators march through Paris denouncing the extreme-right National Front and the Socialist government for its tougher stand on immigration.
Feb 1992 The extreme-right National Front has several electoral successes. In a by-election, a National Front candidate riding a wave of anti-immigrant feeling gets 22.1% of the votes in the second round of voting. Also, in a local election in Nice the National Front tops the first round polls with 37.4% of the vote.
Feb 1 - Mar 31, 1992 Surrounding the March 22 elections, there are almost daily protests, sometimes violent, both against and in support of the racist National Front's proposed immigration policies.
Mar 20, 1992 A package blows up in the immigration department of a police station in the northern town of Lille.
Mar 22, 1992 The ruling Socialist party endures its worst electoral defeat since the 1960s winning only 19% of the vote in regional polls. The National Front wins about 14% of the vote. Polls show that the National Front has made inroads among the working class.
Mar 30, 1992 According to a government survey, the French are becoming increasingly hostile to North African Arabs with 49% of the populace (7% more than last year) showing hostility toward them.
May 18, 1992 Rightist Phillipe de Villiers launches a new anti-immigrant political movement called "Fight for Values."
May 20, 1992 Determined to avoid Los Angeles style riots in its immigrant neighborhoods, France announces measures to combat urban blight in its big cities.
Jun 8, 1992 The Paris-based International Foundation of Human Rights accuses French police of rampant racism. Police often flagrantly abuse their powers to stop people for random identity checks and hold suspects for 48 hours without the permission of a magistrate.
Jun 9, 1992 French youths of North African extraction rampage through Paris after one of their friends is killed in a knife fight which they believe to be racially motivated.
Jun 16, 1992 A 14 year old Moroccan born immigrant is shot in a racist incident.
Jul 14, 1992 200 youths of North African extraction riot in a suburb of Paris in protest of the failure of local authorities to allow them to arrange their own activities for Bastille day.
Jul 15, 1992 Thirty youths of North African origin armed with baseball bats clash with police after the teenage son of Algerian immigrants is shot dead.
Oct 10 - 12, 1992 Youths of North African origin riot and clash with police for three days in a suburb of Lyon after the killing of an 18 year old Moroccan born youth who tried to force his way through a roadblock.
Nov 13 - 17, 1992 Fighting breaks out in a French court when a baker is acquitted for murdering a young Arab whom she shot dead in her shop 2 years ago. The protestors accuse Justice officials of a double standard for French and Arab victims. General riots ensue for several days in Paris among its North African population over this incident.
Nov 21, 1992 Anti-racist activists lead a 1,000 strong protest rally over the acquittal of the baker who shot an Arab youth.
Jan 19, 1993 31% of France's prisoners are foreigners with about half of those from North Africa.
Feb 25, 1993 A government report states that although racist violence has declined in the past year, racial prejudice, especially against Arabs, is still strong.
Feb 28, 1993 The head of the Paris Mosque says that France has refused to admit about 40 clerics from Egypt and Algeria whom he had invited to pray during the Muslim fast of Ramadan.
Mar 28, 1993 The Socialist government is voted out of power in favor of the Center-Right Union which wins 484 out of 577 seats in the national assembly riding on a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment as well as displeasure over rising crime and unemployment.
Mar 29, 1993 Center-Right Gaulist Minister Edouard Balladur is appointed Prime Minister
Apr 5, 1993 The new government's top immigration advisor recommends slashing the number of immigrants arriving into France by more than half of the current level of 150,000 legal immigrants.
Apr 8 - 10, 1993 About 250 high school students protest and riots occur in the northern town of Tourcoing after police shoot and critically wound a young North African (who dies several days later.) This shooting is one of several separate incidents of police shootings in recent days, not all of which involved North Africans.
May 6, 1993 French magistrates and human rights groups condemn a leaked government policy document on immigration as racist and xenophobic and note that parts of it could violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The measures include tough conditions for those seeking long term residence permits, a minimum one year wait for naturalization for foreigners married to French nationals, automatic expulsion without appeal of unregistered non-Europeans and restricted entry for families of foreigners working and studying legally in France.
May 10, 1993 2,000 anti-racists and left-wingers march in central Paris to protest against a draft bill containing tougher conditions for acquiring French nationality. The bill includes a provision that children born of foreigners in France will have to apply for French nationality between the ages of 16 and 21 rather than receiving it automatically at the age of 18 which has been the case thus far.
May 14, 1993 The nationality bill is passed by Parliament's lower house.
May 21 - 23, 1993 France's Roman Catholic Bishops voice support for the country's immigrants and warn against making them a scapegoat. The government responds that it is not its intention to make scapegoats of immigrants.
May 31, 1993 Vandals break into a Turkish worker's club in eastern France.
Jun 1, 1993 Arson destroys a factory owned by a Turkish national in Grenoble and swastikas are found daubed on the charred walls. France announces that it plans to halt immigration.
Jun 2, 1993 The new nationality bill is approved by the cabinet. It contains restrictions on immigrants bringing their families to France, delays naturalization of foreigners married to French nationals, provides for the expulsion of foreigners without identification and places new restrictions on asylum requests. The bill is criticized by human rights groups and the opposition left who think immigration has been unfairly blamed for unemployment and crime. The bill is passed a month later.
Jun 11, 1993 French human rights groups condemn a draft law which Parliament has just passed sanctioning random identity checks saying it would heighten racial tension and cast suspicion on anyone who is not white. The bill is approved by the Senate and made into law about a month later.
Jul 10, 1993 A French policeman is jailed before his trial for possible charges of seriously beating a young Bahraini. French policemen are frequently accused of brutality against Arab immigrants.
Aug 14, 1993 France's Constitutional Council rejects key provisions of the government's anti-immigration measures saying they deprive foreigners of basic rights guaranteed to anyone living in French territory.
Sep 22, 1993 The government approves a draft law to reinstate key provisions of its immigration law declared unconstitutional last month.
Sep 29, 1993 Skinheads douse with petrol and set on fire two 20 year old Frenchmen of North African extraction.
Oct 12, 1993 Teachers in a school in southern France stage a strike to protest against 4 schoolgirls of Moroccan and Turkish origin wearing headscarves in class. The schoolgirls are later expelled for refusing to take off their headscarves. A Turkish preacher is deported in a related incident when he said that Islamic law supersedes French law in this case.
Nov 1993 Roundups of suspected Kurdish Peoples' Party (PKK) members occur leading to protests by Kurds. France eventually bans Kurdish groups it says are associated with the PKK as terrorist groups.
Nov 1 - Dec 31, 1993 French police crack down on suspected Islamic fundamentalists from North African countries.
Dec 10, 1993 An Algerian national hijacks an Air France plane at the Nice airport demanding to be flown to Libya.
Dec 20, 1993 Justice officials report that a blaze which killed 6 Turkish Kurds a month ago could have been set deliberately.
Jan 27, 1994 Two teenagers stab to death a 15-year-old Moroccan boy in the Paris metro after a fistfight in which the Moroccan and two friends made racial taunts against the older teenager who is black.
Feb 3, 1994 According to a poll, support for the views of the National Front has fallen to 19% from its peak of 32% in October of 1991. However, 35% support its anti-immigration views among the general populace as opposed to 43% among the supporters of the ruling Centre-Right coalition.
Feb 5, 1994 Several thousand people march across Paris to protest against the Centre-Right government's new laws on immigration. Among the marchers are a large contingent of Kurds protesting against a sweep on Kurdish activists last November.
Feb 14, 1994 An interior ministry decree says that nationals of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as Palestinians will need documents before leaving France. Prime Minister Ballauda denies that this measure is against immigrants and claims it is designed to fight terrorism. Human rights activists claim that this law can easily be used to harass foreign nationals.
Mar 8 - 10, 1994 Youths in a northern suburb of Paris with a big North African population riot and clash with police after the murder of a 16-year-old,
Mar 11, 1994 The wife of Socialist President Mitterand resigns from the National Consultive Commission on Human Rights, accusing the conservative government of eroding immigrants' freedoms.
Mar 11, 1994 A woman is jailed for organizing marriages of convenience to enable Moroccan immigrants to obtain French citizenship. 18 Moroccans who were married through her efforts are each sentenced to a month in jail.
Mar 21, 1994 The National Consultive Commission on Human Rights voices concerns that the French are becoming more racist and condemns the new immigration laws as a retrograde step in efforts to safeguard basic rights. It notes that North Africans are the main victims of these laws and French racism in general. It also calls for more humane treatment of foreigners and criticizes the conditions under which they are detained, brought before a court and eventually expelled.
Mar 23, 1994 France expels a Moroccan preacher on charges of threatening the public order because he has repeatedly called for a jihad (holy war) against Jews and Christians.
Mar 25 - 30, 1994 During protests over a youth wage law 2 Algerian youths are arrested and deported sparking further protests.
Apr 14, 1994 France announces that it is preparing a new law to bar the spread of racist and xenophobic ideas. Incitement to racial discrimination, hatred or violence would bring fines and prison sentences.
Jul 17, 1994 8 young men of North African origin are injured in a politically motivated drive-by-shooting in a town west of Paris.
Jul 18, 1994 Rioting ensues after a youth of Arab origin is shot by unknown gunmen.
Aug 31, 1994 France expels 20 suspected Algerian Muslim militants as well as a man the government claims is a "senior leader" of the separatist Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).
Sep 9 - 10, 1994 Arab youths riot and clash with police in the southern city of Pau after a 24-year-old of Moroccan origin is killed while trying to steal a car.
Sep 10, 1994 France bans Islamic headscarves from state schools. About 700 Muslim girls, mostly of North African origin, currently wear the headscarves to school.
Sep 11, 1994 About 150 immigrant youths riot in the eastern town of Mulhouse while protesting what they claim are racist insults and brutalities against a youth of Algerian origin held overnight by police.
Oct 4 - 5, 1994 Violence breaks out when 600 Muslims, mostly of North African origin, meet outside of a high school in a suburb of Paris to protest the government ban on Muslim headscarves in public schools. There have been several other similar protests across France over the past few days but this is the first that becomes violent. More violent protests occur the next day.
Nov 7, 1994 France expels an Algerian imam accused of spreading fundamentalist propaganda. A Turkish and Moroccan Imam were also expelled last month.
Nov 14, 1994 Harki youths riot in the Northern town of Amiens because the police broke up a party they were attending.
Nov 15, 1994 About 200 Harki youth riot for a second night in Amiens. A police cover-up denying that they provoked the rioting by breaking up a party is exposed by an amateur film.
Nov 25, 1994 31 girls have been expelled from schools in 4 French cities for wearing headscarves in class.
Dec 24 - 26, 1994 5 Algerian Islamic fundamentalists hijack an Air France airliner. They are eventually killed in a raid by French anti-terrorist police.
Jan 3, 1995 A policeman is killed when police try to stop a shootout between North Africans and some Roma (Gypsies) in Nice.
Feb 22, 1995 A 17-year-old African is shot dead during a clash between immigrants and 3 men putting up election posters for National Front leader Le Pen. French police discover an arms and explosives cache believed to belong to Algerian Islamic fundamentalists.
Apr 1995 A person of Tunisian descent is pushed into Le Haure Harbor and drowned by a skinhead.
Apr 8, 1995 Presidential candidate Jacques Chirac attends a rally of several thousand Harkis in Paris.
Apr 23, 1995 National Front leader Le Pen wins about 15% of the vote in the first round of French presidential elections. Le Pen ran his campaign on a platform which included expelling most people of North African descent from France.
May 1, 1995 A Moroccan immigrant drowns after being thrown into a river by 3 skinheads at a National Front rally in Paris.
May 3, 1995 At least 11,000 anti-racist protesters march through Paris blaming the National Front and its leader Le Pen for the drowning of a Moroccan immigrant on May 1.
May 5, 1995 Anti-Islamic and racist slogans are found on Paris's main Mosque ahead of prayers in memory of a Moroccan immigrant drowned on May 1.
May 23, 1995 About 150 youths of North African descent raid a bar frequented by skinheads in retaliation for the drowning of a Moroccan youth last April.
May 26, 1995 About 250 Jews and people of North African descent clash with police after police allegedly level racist insults at them.
Jun 7 - 9, 1995 As many as 100 youths of North African descent riot in a suburb of Paris after police shoot dead a Moroccan youth on a stolen motorbike. Numerous vehicles are smashed or set ablaze and general vandalism occurs.
Jun 10, 1995 Several thousand people demonstrate in Paris over the June 7 shooting of a Moroccan youth by police.
Jun 18, 1995 In municipal elections, Le Pen's National Front wins control of 3 southern towns. Le Pen vows to implement anti-immigrant policies including a "national preference" policy favoring native French people for jobs, housing, education, and welfare.
Jun 20, 1995 French security forces engage in a roundup of Islamic militants, mostly of Algerian descent.
Jul 22 - 24, 1995 Rioting occurs in a suburb of Paris beginning when youths, mostly of North African descent, try to storm the flat of a French family who are accused of firing rifle shots at the youths from their window.
Jul 25, 1995 7 are killed by a bomb at an underground Paris metro station. An Algerian Islamic fundamentalist group called the Islamic Armed Group General Command (GIA) claims responsibility.
Aug 13, 1995 3 policemen are held and formally investigated on suspicion of beating up and robbing a Frenchman of North African origin in Marseille.
Aug 17, 1995 A bomb explodes in Paris. The GIA claims responsibility.
Aug 26, 1995 Police find an unexploded bomb on the tracks of a high speed railway in central France. The GIA is suspected of planting the bomb.
Sep 1995 Several bombs are detonated across France. The GIA claims responsibility for most of them.
Sep 11, 1995 Police launch raids against suspected Islamic fundamentalists in the wake of several bombings. Since the first bombing incident, several such roundups have occurred, this being the largest.
Sep 29, 1995 Algerian-born Khaled Kelkal, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded bomb, is killed in a shootout with French forces.
Oct 1995 Several bombs are detonated across France. The GIA is blamed. Since July 7 have been killed and about 180 wounded by bombings attributed to the GIA.
Oct 12, 1995 A judge for the first time found a couple guilty of a French law which forbade the "abetting the situation" of an illegal migrant. The couple - a French woman and her fiancé from Congo - had been assembling documents so they could get married. Couples had been persecuted under this law before, but this marked the first time someone had been found guilty. The fiancé was sentenced to three months in jailed, and was not allowed to return to France for another three years. Human rights groups believed this was an assault on the right to have a family.
Oct 26, 1995 Youths of North African origin clash with police in a suburb of Paris.
Nov 1, 1995 Several dozen youths go on a rampage on the outskirts of the western French city of Laval after a policeman shoots dead a young Moroccan.
Nov 2, 1995 Reuters reports that clashes between police and disgruntled youths, often of North African descent, in areas hard-hit by drug-related crime and unemployment are almost a nightly occurrence. French police arrest several suspected Islamic guerrillas and confiscate bomb-making materials.
Jan 26, 1996 After years of quietly tolerating the African practice of polygamy in France, the French government decided that it would only recognize one wife and annul all other marriages. The decision was based on issues of well-being for the families involved, as well as concerns of increased immigration (from the attempt to bring all the wives and children into the country), budget (from the increased social service expenditures on the large families) and space use (from trying to fit multiple wives and children into a single-family apartment). An estimated 2 out of every 3 African families in France practiced polygamy. (New York Times 1/26/96)
Jun 24, 1996 European Union leaders signed a pact creating a pan-European criminal investigation agency designed to limit illegal immigration, and the movement of drugs and criminals through the "borderless" European Union. Its powers were not clearly defined, and no agency was set up to monitor the agency. (Inter Press Service 6/24/96)
Jun 28, 1996 Three hundred immigrants threatened with deportation sought refuge in the St. Bernard de la Chapelle in the Goutte d'Or neighborhood of Paris. About 10 later began a hunger strike to protest the increased deportation of illegal immigrants. The group had previously been evicted from several other sites, including two churches and an abandoned railway warehouse. The church had promised not to force them out. Over 7000 people had been forcibly deported in the first six months of this year, compared with 5,868 in the same period last year. (New York Times 8/11/96)
Aug 23, 1996 Police stormed the church of St. Bernard de la Chapelle, and arrested 200 illegal immigrants who had been occupying the church in protest of the government's plan to evict them. Several hundred French nationals, anticipating the move, had surrounded the church to prevent such action, which had been taken without seeking permission from the local bishop or the parish priest. Jacques Bompard, a leader of the ultra-right National Front party, praised the action, stating "Churches are places for the exercise of the Catholic religion, and for anybody else to occupy them is an act of aggression." Some of the protestors were deported the following day, and more in the following week, leading to protests in the cities of Paris and Marseilles. French President Jacques Chirac defended the move by saying he needed to send "a strong signal" to discourage potential immigrants from poor countries. (New York Times 8/24/96 and 8/26/96 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/28/96)
Dec 4, 1996 Algerian terrorists claimed responsibility for a bomb which killed two people and seriously injured seven others at a Paris train station. Paramilitary police immediately swept through predominantly African neighborhoods in response. (New York Times 12/4/96)
Dec 17, 1996 The French parliament began debate on immigration, with the aim of clarifying some of the confusing laws of the past. However, Parliament also gave right wing politicians and the National Front an opportunity to further tighten immigration policy. Proposed changes included: allowing children under 16 years old who can prove residence in France from the age of six the right to a one-year residence permit; a ban on granting residency to parents who claim paternity after a child is born in France unless they can prove they have supported the child for a year or more; the offer of legal status to illegal migrants who had lived in France peacefully, and without practicing polygamy, for 15 years or more. Divorced legal migrants would not be allowed to marry and bring in their new wives for two years and foreign spouses of French citizens would not be allowed residency papers unless they have been married for two years under other proposals. (Inter Press Service 12/17/96)
Dec 25, 1996 The French government received a letter from the AIG which threatened to "destroy" the country unless France released all its fundamentalist prisoners and stopped all aid to the Algerian government. (New York Times 12/25/96)
Feb 25, 1997 Thousands of protestors demonstrated across France against proposed legislation that would further tighten immigration controls. Over 140,000 people also signed a petition presented to the National Assembly (parliament) to oppose the bill. Especially contentious was a section which required that French hosts register foreigners staying with them with the police. The legislation in question was passed the following day, and immediately criticized by the European parliament, leading to an international debate. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/25/97 and 2/26/97)
Mar 17, 1997 A liberal mosque in Paris was bombed. Police could not determine whether the attackers were racists or Muslim fundamentalists. (New York Times 3/18/97)
Mar 30, 1997 The National Front began its annual congress in Strasbourg. The Socialist, Green, and Communist party leaders, including Lionel Jospin led several protests outside the meeting spot, urging calm. French President Jacques Chirac stayed away. (New York Times 3/30/97)
May 30, 1997 In the lead-up to the June 1 parliamentary elections, GISTI, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples (MRAP), and several other groups disclose a survey which revealed that all the left-wing parties had promised to repeal the immigration laws introduced by conservative interior ministers Charles Pasqua in 1993 and Jean-Louis Debre in 1997. Supposedly designed to halt illegal immigration, both sets of laws have been attacked by immigrants and migrant support groups as forcing foreign residents into illegality by arbitrarily denying them residence papers and tightening restrictions on their entrance and stay in France. (Inter Press Service 5/30/97)
Mar 29, 1998 At least 20,000 people marched through the Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris and 6,000 to 14,000 demonstrated in Lyons to protest power-sharing deals in regional assemblies which allowed the National Front to have a say in their legislation. The regional parliaments' powers included making budgets for job training, building schools, transportation, and other social policies. President Jacques Chirac had called for the leaders of the assemblies affected by these deals to resign their posts. Many had. (New York Times 3/25/98 and 3/29/98)
Apr 7, 1998 Film directors and Catholic bishops both appealed Tuesday to French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement to relent in his drive to deport illegal immigrants, saying people who had lived in France for years should be allowed to stay. The government was in the process of deciding the fate of 150,000 illegal immigrants who had applied for residency. So far the government has granted permits to 41,500 applicants, has refused 39,500 and has yet to rule on 53,000, according to figures released Monday. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/7/98)
Jun 22, 1998 Immigrant groups expressed outrage after a press conference in which former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur suggested that the French government set up a commission to consider the question of "national preference." This was a term used to mean the setting aside of certain jobs and services solely for French nationals. The MRAP said that even discussing the idea openly gave the suggestion that such racism was acceptable. (Inter Press Service 6/22/98)
Jul 7, 1998 The MRAP blamed the French government for creating a "huge moral problem" with its new immigration policy, which required illegal residents wishing to apply for legal status to document at least a seven year residence in France. By producing such evidence, said the MRAP, the immigrants had to reveal their identities and risked losing everything they had worked for, since the government thus far had approved less than half the applications. Human rights organizations also claimed that the Ministry had given the police authorities too many arbitrary powers in making residency decisions, and that the police were especially hard on persons without families in France. (Inter Press Service 7/7/98)
Aug 1, 1998 Four illegal immigrants from Africa - part of the group which had occupied the church of St. Bernard de la Chapelle in 1996 - occupied the Papal Nuncio in Paris. Of the last group, of 314 people who occupied the church, only 26 ended up being deported. All but 17 got at least temporary residence permits, and those occupying the residence aimed to get legal documents for them all. (New York Times 8/1/98)

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