France investing EUR 100 million into combating racism
The French Government will invest approximately EUR 100 million over the next three years into combating anti-Semitism and racism. Agence France-Presse reports that Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced the investment at a press conference on 17 April.
The Government campaign is supposed to take action against the climate of hatred against ethnic minorities, foreign nationals, Jews, Muslims and sexual minorities that is reportedly increasing in French society. The Government plan involves roughly 40 measures including legislation.
The announcement of the program came more than three months after terrorist attacks in Paris cost the lives of 17 people, including staffers at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and customers in a Kosher delicatessen. Valls chose the Créteil suburb, where last December assailants attacked a Jewish couple in their apartment, raping the woman, as the location to present the project.
In addition to outreach in the schools and a public information campaign, the measures will also include the creation of a "Unit for Combating Hate on the Internet". Anti-Semitism and racism, moreover, will become aggravating circumstances if part of the motivation for committing crimes.
Agence France-Presse reports that perpetrators of hate speech in France have been able to hide behind claims of freedom of speech. Many lawyers are criticizing the measures, referencing alleged restrictions of basic freedoms and calling this the introduction of "censorship".
Agence France-Presse also reports that the number of attacks against Jewish people in France doubled last year compared to 2013. The number of French Jews emigrating has also increased several times over.
According to a recent report from a human rights committee published at the beginning of April, more than 80 % of the French have negative views of Romani people. The same report found that 75 % of the French hold negative views of Muslims.
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