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7 Jul, 2023 19:16

Most French blame liberal immigration rules for riots – poll

More than 70% of respondents want the influx of immigrants reduced, Le Figaro has found
Most French blame liberal immigration rules for riots – poll

Some 59% of the French public want the government to tighten a forthcoming immigration bill in response to a recent wave of nationwide violence. While the government insists that the rioters were “90% French,” opposition politicians have described the unrest as the beginnings of a “race war.” 

The French government has been working on a sweeping immigration bill since late last year, and lawmakers are expected to vote on a final version this fall. While the bill will make it easier for legal immigrants to obtain work permits, it grants the government more extensive powers to deport foreign aliens.

However, 59% of the French public think that the bill should be toughened in light of last week’s nationwide riots, according to a poll published by Le Figaro on Thursday. According to the newspaper, almost six in ten French people view the riots as “the consequence of the failures of our migration policy.” 

The violence erupted after police shot and killed a French-Algerian teenager when he refused to comply at a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 27. Although the officer responsible was charged with homicide, riots soon engulfed the country. Widespread arson and vandalism occurred, and rioters attacked police with fireworks and molotov cocktails, while some were filmed brandishing military-grade firearms.

The violence was primarily instigated by youths from immigrant backgrounds. The French government has attempted to downplay the ethnic nature of the violence, with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stating on Wednesday that of more than 3,500 people arrested during the riots, only 10% were foreigners.

“The issue today is young offenders, not foreigners,” Darmanin said, noting that those responsible were “90% French.” 

Darmanin’s figures do not account for second- and third-generation immigrants. Despite their French passports, these “delinquents…shout their hatred of France and burn its flag,” MEP François-Xavier Bellamy wrote in Le Figaro on Wednesday. “Naturalization does not mean assimilation,” Bellamy added.

“It’s not riots, it’s guerrilla warfare. A challenge to France, to our institutions, by a population that seeks secession,” MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan declared on Friday. A week earlier, former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour described the then-raging riots as “a race war,” solely attributable to “the number of immigrants” in France.

According to Le Figaro’s poll, the French public favors such harsh measures. Some 71% called for “a reduction in migratory flows” in response to the unrest, 75% called for dual nationals convicted of rioting to be stripped of French citizenship, and 90% demanded a heavier police presence in affected neighborhoods.