The week Paris burned

“For years, French integration policies have been based around the republican tenet of secularism. On the basis that France should be indivisible and able to assimilate all its components by officially erasing their particularities, the government does not allow official statistics to be broken down by ethnicity and religion…. Christophe Bertossian, an immigration specialist at the French Institute for International Relations, believes it is time for a rethink: ‘Part of the problem is the French approach to integration, based on the concept that everyone is equal. The idea that we are equal is fiction. Ethnic minorities keep being told they do not exist’.”

Alex Duval Smith in the Observer, 6 November 2005