20080726

France heart Obama

In Germany the giga rock concert given to the people of the World, in "Sarkozie" the somber threat addressed to the rulers of Iran. Hope for the doves on one hand, dope for the hawks on the other... in the process Barack Obama even manages to claim the Reagan Democrats heritage.

France's love story with Obama is first the end of a hate story with Bush. We like his balanced views and sound approach of international politics. We like the way he sets people in motion in a positive way. And yes, we wish we had such a charismatic politician making it to the top job from our own minorities.

France is a melting pot. Both a former colonial superpower and the victim of countless invasions, a crossroads where 60 million people live and 75 million people pass by every year, the place where Europe's biggest Muslim minority and Europe's biggest Jewish minority used to live peacefully together until
George W. Bush decided to give fundamentalism a worldwide boost.

Race is not an issue in France since raising the issue is almost forbidden : all databases have to be declared to an independent council (the CNIL), and keeping data related to race is illegal. So there are no official statistics regarding minorities, and everyday discrimination cannot be easily exposed. Even the HALDE (a post-2005 authority against discriminations) doesn't mention "race" in its website's keywords : "physical appearance", "genetic characteristics" and "origin" (circumnavigation if I ever saw one).

Everybody knows there is a problem. The only institution reflecting France's diversity remains the national soccer team, and the media and politics are still 99.999% white. Following the 2005 riots, Chirac urged the media to change this and there has been some improvement (anyway from scratch there wasn't any other way than upwards). Sarkozy's Ministry of Justice happens to be a woman with a dual French-Moroccan nationality (Rachida Dati), but there again, a tree doesn't make a forest. Political parties are guilty too : if minority talents are not given any opportunity, France is already dramatically lagging behind most countries when it comes to giving women electable spots.

France has been waiting for a "French Kennedy" for 40 years - to no avail. But a President Obama could certainly help the self proclaimed "country of Human Rights" to be at last true to its values of "liberte, egalite, fraternite".

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