The mayor of Grenoble in south-east France is to ask his city council to vote this month on his proposition to ease dress restrictions in municipal swimming pools, and notably the current ban on the wearing of burkinis, a move that the conservative president of the wider regional council described as 'submitting to Islamism' while threatening to cut grants to the city.
The fact that a party that did not even exist just over a year ago has just won an absolute majority in the French National Assembly has inevitably excited surprise among commentators. But, argues Hubert Huertas, one remarkable aspect of the recent presidential and legislative votes has largely gone unnoticed: the death of the notion that French society was on some inevitable path towards the far right. This theory, which was enthusiastically adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy and exemplified by the Front National, has been comprehensively demolished, he says.
The French Republican mantra of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité has arguably cast a veil over prejudice and discrimination in some of the country’s institutions because of a widespread belief that if equality has been decreed, it must exist. But now, an unusual grass-roots study is being run in five schools in the city of Grenoble, southern France, to investigate evidence that children from families of non-French ethnic origin are, against their will, guided to a future professional life that offers fewer opportunities than for others. Lucie Delaporte reports on a taboo subject that has divided experts and evaded proper public debate.