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February 1997, Volume 4, Number 2

Asylum Protests Continue in France

An estimated 3,000 people in Paris protested on January 19 against the French government's plans to tighten laws against illegal immigration. On January 3, 1997 10 illegal African immigrants protested near the presidential palace in Paris to force France to resolve the cases of 277 illegal immigrants who occupied a church in August, 1996. The group plans to demonstrate every Thursday until each case is resolved.

French President Chirac told an audience of teenagers that they should not be afraid of seeking employment abroad. Only 2.5 percent of French citizens were living abroad in 1995; the lowest expatriate percentage in the EU.

Some 92,140 foreigners became French citizens in 1995, down from a peak 126,337 in 1994. About 51 percent of those becoming French citizens in 1995 were from European nations and 46 percent were from northern African nations.

The rector of the mosque of Paris criticized Chirac for refusing to invite him to a new year presidential good wish meeting with Catholic and Jewish religious leaders of France. According to the rector, "the Muslims of France feel this discrimination as a new humiliation." France has about four million Muslims.

A court has ruled that a letter by actress Brigette Bardot denouncing a Muslim ritual was not racist. The anti-racist groups that brought the case against Bardot said they would appeal the ruling by the 17th Correctional Chamber.

"Fewer immigrants becoming French citizens," Reuters, January 24, 1997. John Lichfield, "Chirac launches human export drive to tackle unemployment," The Independent, January 29, 1997. "Protesters want French immigration reforms dropped," Reuters, January 18, 1997. "Illegals in France Rally Near President's Palace," The Record, January 3, 1997.