French "Double Standards" on Racism Under Fire
"We waited in vain for entire three weeks for a single word of condemnation from prominent French politicians," Aounit told IOL.
By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
PARIS, March 27, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – The French government and media's "double standards" in tackling hate crimes has drawn a diatribe after an odious attack on a Frenchman of Algerian origin had been met with deafening silence compared to the much publicized and denounced killing of a French Jew last month.
"We condemn the double standards of media and French institutions especially the Elysee and the government," the Coalition for Truth said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by IslamOnline.net on Monday, March 27.
The rights advocacy group was formed in the wake of the killing of Shayeb Zaef
, a 40-year-old French of Algerian roots, three weeks ago in an apparent racist attack.
The assailant, identified as Jean Marie, called Zaef a "filthy Arab"
before shooting him thrice as he was stepping out of a café in Lyon, witnesses said.
"We waited in vain for three entire weeks
for a single word
of condemnation from prominent French politicians, including the head of Lyon's municipality," Mouloud Aounit, the Secretary General of the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, told IOL.
Aounit was among the signatories of the coalition's statement along with prominent figures such as Algerian-born Senator Alima Boumediene and Olivia Zemor, the head of the Euro Palestine group.
In stark contrast
, the killing of French Jew Ilan Halimi
has been the talk of France last month and drew immediate condemnation from President Jacques Chirac
, who was keen on attending a memorial service for the victim in a Paris synagogue.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have further took to the streets in protest against racism and anti-Semitism.
The march drew an array of politicians, including Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and representatives of the opposition Socialists, including Lionel Jospin, a former prime minister.
Although initial investigations have revealed that the killer had links with the radical right-wing and despite eyewitness counts that he used mouth-fouled abuse against Zaef, police are reluctant to admit the racist nature of the crime.
This drew fire from the coalition which urged judiciary authorities not to "bow to political pressures."
This also prompted the S.S. Racime group to organize a silent rally that drew 500 people in central Lyon.
The protesters carried banners demanding nothing but the truth.
As anger mounted, Sarkozy finally decided to meet Zaef's wife and three sons to promise them a transparent inquiry into the killing of their breadwinner.
Zaef's killing is the second of its kind in less than two months
On February 25, two brothers of Moroccan origin
were harshly attacked by a group of rightists and rushed to intensive care in critical condition
Years of government negligence and marginalization prompted thousands of French immigrants and Arabs to stage nationwide riot in October and November of last year.
They voiced anger at racial discrimination despite being born in France, a lack of educational and employment prospects and police harassment.
A Sorbonne research released in 2005 by the French Observatory Against Racism found that Arab names and dark complexion represent an obstacle to jobseekers