Racism Against Islam Behind The Insistence On Revising The 1968 Agreement
The issue of revising the 1968 agreement on immigration between Algeria and France is still at the centre of political and media debate in Paris, and this time it was the turn of Edouard Philippe, former Prime Minister in Emmanuel Macron’s first government, to express his opinion on the matter.
In an interview with L’Express published on Monday 5 June, Edouard Philippe called for a review of the 1968 agreement that governs the entry, residence and employment of Algerians in France and places them above all other foreigners, including those from France’s former colonies and other Maghreb countries, as regards rights and privileges.
This agreement, says Edouard Philippe, the former top French official involved in the 1968 case, “completely defines the law applicable to the entry and residence of Algerian nationals, in conditions much better than those provided for by the common law. This is something very special. No citizen benefits” than any other country from such advantages.
The French official referred to the special nature of the excellent bilateral relations between Algeria and Paris, but nevertheless insisted on revising the agreement: “Of course, there are very strong historical relations between France and Algeria, but maintaining such a system today with a country with which we have complex relations no longer exists.”
Edouard Philippe was a late entrant to the 1968 debate, which had been preceded by former politicians and diplomats such as the former ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt, who became a fierce opponent of the presence of Algerians on French soil, and who each time raised the banner of revising the agreement by any means necessary.
The justification given by the former French Prime Minister for revising the agreement is what he called the “geographical origin of foreigners”, which has become very present in French society, and he was referring to the presence in France of a large proportion of foreigners from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, and in this justification there is much of the racism that an official of his stature, who headed the French government, is supposed to distance himself from.
In support of his controversial position, Edouard Philippe presents figures showing a significant increase in the number of immigrants since 2000, a statistic he derives from the fact that the French population has increased by 9 per cent over the same period, while the number of French people of foreign origin has increased by 53 per cent.
This is a graph that does not correspond to a political choice or a decision that we would have taken,” the French official confirms.
In more blunt language, the former French Prime Minister speaks of “three things that have not been said about immigration: firstly, we say we want fewer foreigners in France, but when a certain number of our compatriots say this, they are actually targeting French people, and sometimes three generations ago”.
He added: “Controlling the entry of foreigners into France will not solve this problem. It is a question of integration, education and citizenship. As for the second unannounced statement, it concerned Islam, which has become “a central issue, a worrying issue and a painful issue”. As for the third and last unannounced topic, Edouard Philippe was referring to the productive foreigners who work in factories and on farms and contribute to the success of France”.
“Many French people think that there are too many foreigners in France, but in Parisian restaurants, in the tourist industry, in agriculture, in a whole range of economic sectors that are not in crisis and that are essential to French success, we depend on far too many foreigners”.