Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

President Robert Mugabe emerges from house arrest

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Harassment and hypocrisy in Washington

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Military pressures Robert Mugabe to step down, Macron mediates Lebanon crisis

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France raises a glass to tourism

Read more

FOCUS

France's newest political party accused of 'old' methods

Read more

#THE 51%

Hear me roar: The growing economic power of older women

Read more

#TECH 24

The future of surgery

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

The tiny parasite threatening your salmon sushi

Read more

ENCORE!

Director Joachim Trier: True horror is a 'lack of self-acceptance'

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2010-02-05

National identity: Who is really French?

What does it mean to be French? For the past few months, France has been asking itself that very question. But the debate over national identity launched by President Sarkozy now appears to be deepening racial tensions present for years. To get to the heart of the matter, our reporter James André went to Marseille, the most ethnically diverse city in France.

Since the 2nd of November, the French Public has been invited by the government to reflect on what it means to be French today. It’s the “Grand Debate about National Identity”, instigated by President Nicolas Sarkozy and driven by Eric Besson, the minister in charge of immigration and national identity. A series of clumsy statements and reckless declarations has narrowed the debate towards the themes of immigration and the place of Islam in France.

We decided to go to the Belsunce neighbourhood in Marseille and meet the different communities who form this multicoloured bit of France, that locals have nicknamed Algiers 2.

The debate is taking place amidst the rise of a certain form of Islamophobia across Europe. Just after the Swiss voted to ban minarets, a survey showed that 57% of French people would have voted the same way, and that 47% were in favour of banning mosques.

A few weeks later, young people of Algerian origin took to the streets with flags to celebrate Algeria’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup. In several large French cities, including Marseille, these demonstrations started out as joy but turned to riots.

This is the background against which the debate is taking place. Its outcome will be formally presented on the eve of France’s regional elections.

As we meet different Belsunce district residents, it appears that the debate is considered to be a threat by immigrants in general, and Muslims in particular.

By James ANDRE

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-11-09 Europe

Full circle: The second life of old clothes abroad

Our reporters investigated what happens to old clothes thrown out by Westerners. For several months, our team followed the trail of recycled clothes - from initial collection...

Read more

2017-11-03 Asia-pacific

Exclusive report: Burma in denial over Rohingya crisis

Burma’s northern Rakhine state is on lockdown. In recent weeks, violence has forced hundreds of thousands of minority Muslim Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. FRANCE 24’s regional...

Read more

2017-10-27 Middle East

Video: The story of a deadly air strike in Iraq’s Mosul

For more than three years, the US-led coalition has been using air strikes to help Iraqi troops retake territory from Islamic State group jihadists. But some are now tallying the...

Read more

2017-10-20 Asia-pacific

The Dictator's Games: A rare look inside Turkmenistan

As Turkmenistan hosted the Asian Games in the capital Ashgabat, our reporter managed to obtain a visa to cover the event. He brings us a rare look inside one of the world’s most...

Read more

2017-10-13 Europe

Video: Ghosts of 1917 revolution still haunt Russians

What remains of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia? FRANCE 24 brings you a special documentary on how Russians are living with this cumbersome legacy, as the Kremlin keeps a...

Read more