France unveils national identity plans

Newcomers to France will be made to sign a declaration of values as part of a new campaign to define national identity, France’s Prime Minister says. Francois Fillon announced the initiative after three months of public debates around the country.

Other measures include the flying of the French flag and the singing of the national anthem – La Marseilleise – at schools, to promote patriotism. Critics say the debate simply provoked anti-Muslim sentiment and racism.

Polls showed many French people found the discussions were not constructive and President Nicolas Sarkozy, originally a keen supporter of the initiative, quickly began to distance himself from the debate. The promised grand presentation of the findings was downgraded to a low-key event.

BBC News, 9 February 2010