The United States has traveled a long road toward our diverse population. Such growth has been accompanied by growing pains.Our history is marked with bouts and fits of xenophobia against new immigrant groups and repressive laws against minorities. Even in 2005, we have issues with immigration and respecting the rights of minority groups.
France’s geographical location enables people to immigrate to France from North and sub-Saharan Africa in effort to have more opportunities in life, such as better jobs and higher education.
Discrimination against immigrant groups still exists in the United States, but inclusion of different cultures is the goal in this country. France, however, has responded with laws to assimilate newcomers to the general population. Bans on religious dress and jewelry have prompted unrest.
Immigrants and their children have been living a life of inequality in France and are fed up. Social and political inequities have spawned over two weeks of rioting.
In efforts to fight discrimination among classes, youth are sending smoke signals to French President Jacques Chirac. Youth fill the streets every night and light cars ablaze in hopes of change.
Chirac is enforcing tough police tactics and curfews for juveniles in attempts to control the rioting, but it doesn’t look like the youth will ignore the injustices. They will stop at nothing because they have nothing to loose.
Chirac has announced plans to provide employment and preparation for employment, such as skill training, to 50,000 youth by 2007, but civil unrest still abounds.
Rioters’ actions can’t be condoned but should remind us what happens when second-class citizens are created. As we face issues with political minorities, we should remember what transpired in France.
Roxanna Latifi for the Editorial Board