This article appears at the website of l'Union, a local newspaper serving the northern departments of Champagne, Ardennes and Picardie. It describes the changing face of the city of Orgeval, north of Reims, in the rural Ardennes region:
In Orgeval, the French of North African origin and their businesses are now largely in the majority. The "classic" French increasingly feel ill at ease.
In Orgeval the ethnic French population no longer feels at home. "You mustn't see that as racism. That has nothing to do with it, but the North Africans have taken possession of the neighborhood, their laws and their culture rule, and we can do nothing except keep silent or move out. I've filed a request to change neighborhoods," explains a tenant of Charles-Roche.
"The young have no respect for us. I think that if I were North African, I would be treated better." Provided she wore the veil. "In Orgeval, a girl walking alone, without a veil, is called a bitch by the young persons. Girls do not have the right to go out with a boy, or only secretly. Fanaticism is never far away and favors intolerant behavior," according to a former employee of the community center. [...]
Abdelkader, a practicing Muslim and well-known neighborhood figure, refutes all ethnic separatism ["communitarisme"]: "Algerians, Moroccans, French, most people get along well and live well together. The problem is the young. With the young, things aren't going well."
A "white" woman from the Poincaré neighborhood, who is also waiting for new housing, says: "With the older generation, everyone gets along. Never a problem. That's proof that there is no racism on the part of the French. However, it does happen that we experience racism. The other day, on the staircase, a group of North African women were coming down. One of them addressed me. I didn't understand what she said and she called me a dirty French woman."
You mustn't talk back, or else "your car will be burned, your apartment burgled. They regard the neighborhood as theirs."
Even the police have nothing to say. "When the police come here, a hundred neighborhood young persons are immediately on the scene. One wonders where they come from... the police leave," affirm several residents. "They will never make an effort to integrate. It's too late, there's nothing to do but leave." (...)
In the stores, it is difficult to find pork, both in the butcher shops and the bakeries, where the paté turnovers ["en croûte"] are not to be found. "The merchants are nice to everybody, French or North African, but if they sold products for the French, they would risk losing the North Africans so they don't. That's the way it is," explains Mohamed Zaïda, president of the regional Algerian association, headquartered in Orgeval.
In a second part to the article, Mohamed Zaïda complains about the way all the ethnic communities were grouped together in one area, instead of being spread out throughout the city:
"We came in the 1960's, and they put us all here. Now people see us as a mountain. I favor mixing the populations."
He complains also about the fact that no one will hire these young persons, even though they are French born, and he points out that the North African population is growing:
"I am appealing to businesses to give them a chance, or else there will be trouble. Where are we heading? Our population is growing, there are already 12 or 13 million of us in France. For the moment these young persons don't vote, but when they do they'll vote for the first Algerian candidate who runs, and where will that lead, since they have grown up in hatred?"
He also says that girls have to put on a head scarf when they go out, not necessarily because they are religious, but to appease the fanaticism of the young persons. He insists he favors punishing all offenders and complains that the police let them go right away.
The article raises some questions that I cannot answer. These "young persons" are teens. If they were born in France then they are the children (possibly in some cases the grandchildren) of the original immigrants who came as a result of the end of the Algerian War, but especially as a result of the change in immigration laws in 1974 which opened the doors to women. That is when babies began to be born. So a girl born in France in 1975, turned 20 in 1995, began to have children who are today the teens causing trouble. But why is Zaïda surprised? Immigrants are usually grouped together, not necessarily because they are forced, but out of an inclination to be with one's own kind. He seems to feels it was forced.
But isn't the real problem not that they all live in one area, but that there was a change in mentality between the second and third generations? Why was this?
If these kids are full of hatred and commit mayhem, it is only normal that no one will hire them. He should not be surprised, but he should try to analyze the reasons why the change in attitude took place.
Finally he gives an indication of the number of North Africans in France. We always read that there are 5 million "immigrants", and we sense that this figure is derisory. The word "immigrant" technically does not apply to the "young persons" described above. They are 2nd and 3rd generation French. There are of course millions of immigrants waiting to receive their papers or waiting to become nationals. How many I have no idea. But is it safe to assume that the total number of North Africans, both French-born and non-nationals waiting to be legalized, plus the total number of sub-Saharan Africans, goes well beyond 15 million? Is that reasonable to assume?
If there are about 61 million Frenchmen in all (Wikipedia gives 61,875,822 as of 01/08), then the African element (North and South) would be approaching ONE THIRD of the population and could easily reach that point in 20 years or less.
This paragraph from Wikipedia is interesting. An uninformed person reading it would conclude that France has an immigrant population of 2 million who are nationals and 2.9 million who have not been nationalized, ignoring completely the many millions who were already there:
France is an ethnically diverse nation. According to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, it has an estimated 4.9 million foreign-born immigrants, of which 2 million have acquired French citizenship. France is the leading asylum destination in Western Europe with an estimated 50,000 applications in 2005 (a 15% decrease from 2004).
Here's another paragraph:
Estimates of the number of Muslims in France vary widely. According to the 1999 French census returns, there were only 3.7 million people of “possible Muslim faith” in France (6.3% of the total population). In 2003, the French Ministry of the Interior estimated the total number of Muslims as 5-6 millions. There are an estimated 200,000 to 1 million illegal immigrants in France.
The number of Muslims as 5-6 million is the official figure most often cited and conflicts with Mohamed Zaïda's figure of 12-13 million. However we must consider the possibility that most of the Maghrebins in France do not identify themselves as practicing Muslims.