24 October 2012, 14:36

Immigrants in Paris: what does France keep mum about?

Immigrants in Paris: what does France keep mum about?

Russian journalist Alexander Rogatkin’s latest documentary about French immigration has hit the headlines in Russia and beyond.

Legal Aliens’ 2 was criticized by France’s Le Monde which specifically commented on the film showing Paris suburbs controlled by immigrants – a problem that the newspaper described as ‘trumped-up’. Experts, for their part, say that the French were frustrated about the very fact that someone mentioned a problem that they are trying to hush up.

The Russian film crew were shooting the film outside Paris which is believed to be a hazardous area, Rogatkin says, adding that locals were irked with his colleagues’ presence there.

"To our great surprise, they said that shooting a film in the Arab quarters is fraught with consequences and that we risk being beaten, a forecast that finally came true. No sooner had we started shooting than our cameraman was hit in the face," Rogatkin says.

Police refused to interfere because they fail to call the shots in these neighborhoods, controlled by national communities and drug kingpins.

Analysts say that the current situation is the result of France’s mistaken immigration policy. In the wake of the disintegration of the colonial empire in the 1960s, French authorities gave the go-ahead for citizens of its former colonies coming to France with the aim of improving their living conditions. A turning point in the history of French immigration took place in the 1970s, when the authorities decided to improve the economic situation by attracting cheap labor force. They opened the borders without elaborating a relevant legislation. As a result, about 6 million immigrants currently reside in France, with some of them losing their jobs and turning into gunmen. Needless to say, ordinary French people are concerned over the situation, something that prompted many of them to vote for National Front Party leader Marine Le Pen during the French presidential elections in April 2012. She managed to garner 18 percent of the vote at the time.

Pyotr Cherkasov, a Moscow-based France expert, says that more people will support Le Pen in the coming years given that the incumbent Socialist government is unlikely to resolve immigration-related problems.

"François Hollande came to power thanks to the support by former immigrants-turned-new French citizens, Cherkasov says. These problems will hardly be solved in the next few years because the ruling Socialist party and the President are unlikely to retract their relevant pre-election promises."

Almost all European countries are currently facing problems pertaining to immigration. Economic and political crises prod citizens of Arab and African countries to travel to Europe, where they are unwelcome. Last year saw an immigration collapse in the region, which prompted MPs and politicians to start mapping out pan-European laws on immigration. Even if adopted, the laws are unlikely to help resolve the problem, experts conclude.

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