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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 16:30 GMT
First French racism poll released
Patrick Lozes, head of Council of Black Associations
Mr Lozes says the statistics reveal France's hidden truth
More than half of black people in France believe they have been victims of discrimination in everyday life, a new survey suggests.

The poll, carried out for a group of black associations, is the first of its kind in France, where it is illegal to compile data based on ethnic criteria.

Black leaders say the restrictions are compounding the problem and call for public policy changes to beat racism.

It is estimated that nearly 4% of France's population is black.

The survey commissioned by black advocacy group, the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), and conducted by the TNS-Sofres polling firm, questioned 13,000 adults living in France.

For a long time, we were told there wasn't a problem because there weren't any figures. This survey is a diagnosis. These statistics show what this society does not want to hear or see
Patrick Lozes, head of Council of Black Associations
It found that 56% of black people believed they suffered racial discrimination at least from time to time, and 61% had experienced it during the past year.

More than a third felt that the problem was getting worse and nearly one in five believed they had been refused work because of the colour of their skin.

TNS Sofres said it had not broken France's strict rules on gathering ethnic data when gathering the information.

But in releasing the survey, the Council of Black Associations called for more data on French minorities, arguing that the state's refusal to collect information on its citizens' racial background was compounding the problem of racism in France.

Parliamentary representation

Council head Patrick Lozes said white society could no longer hide behind the absence of figures to deny the reality of racial discrimination.

"For a long time, we were told there wasn't a problem because there weren't any figures," Mr Lozes said.

"This survey is a diagnosis. These statistics show what this society does not want to hear or see," he added.

Rioting in France in 2005, partly blamed on racial discrimination
Riots in 2005 were linked to anger at alleged racial discrimination

Mr Lozes called for specific measures to improve the access of black people to higher education, the media and the workplace and he criticised the absence of black people in the French presidential election campaign.

There are currently no black people serving in France's government and none of the deputies in the country's mainland government are black.

The Council says it wants this to change through the imposition of guaranteed places for blacks in both government and parliament.

It is estimated that nearly 4% of the population in France is black, equivalent to 1.865 million people.

In 2005 France saw weeks of rioting in impoverished suburbs that was partly linked to the anger many youths from immigrant families felt at alleged racial discrimination.




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