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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 December 2005, 08:36 GMT
Sarkozy call to help minorities
By Alasdair Sandford
BBC News, Paris

Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy faced criticism during the French riots
Positive discrimination is the only way to guarantee equal opportunities for all people in France, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has said.

Mr Sarkozy says he wants the law to ensure equal opportunities in practice - without introducing ethnic quotas.

High unemployment and discrimination against young black and Arab people have been blamed for a wave of rioting in several French cities in late 2005.

President Jacques Chirac opposes the principle of positive discrimination.

For him and for Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, such policies only increase the differences between communities and are against the traditional French republican model.

The government wants more use of anonymous CVs.

One scheme in Bordeaux showed that job seekers tended to get more interviews when employers could not see their name or address.

But for Interior Minister Sarkozy, voluntary measures are not enough.

He wants the law to impose what he calls French-style positive discrimination - not to introduce ethnic quotas, he says, but to ensure equal opportunity in practice.

Not for the first time, the outspoken interior minister is not afraid to swim against the official tide.

He has praised schemes such as that run by Sciences Po, the prestigious school of political science in Paris, which reserves some places for students from deprived areas.

And he has instructed another higher education institution to set up what he calls a "positive discrimination laboratory".

Many young people in deprived areas complain that their CVs are barely looked at because of their background.

One study revealed that people with north African names were five times less likely to get job interviews than those with traditional French names.


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