ETA: It's Saturday now. I posted this entry on Thursday, and filtered it so only the French people on my flist would see it. I've probably gotten all the response I'm going to from them, so I'm going to make the post public now because someone who saw the entire article (that post is also being made public)was curious as what discussion there had been.
Okay, the only people who can see this post are Aline, Babycakes, Jem, Rosie, Morgared, Mouse, and GreedyDancer. I can only think of two (possibly three) other people who might be interested in the story, and I'll post the entire newspaper article elsewhere for them.
Wednesday's Financial Times included an article by Martin Arnold, who reports for the paper from Paris. The piece talked about an interview that Gérard Larcher gave on Tuesday to a group of foreign journalists. I won't transcribe the full article here, but the first three paragraphs are shown below (bold and italics mine):
France's employment minister yesterday blamed polygamy as one reason for the rioting in the country.
Gérard Larcher said multiple marriages among immigrants was one reason for the racial discrimination which ethnic minorities faced in the job market. Overly large polygamous families sometimes led to anti-social behaviour among youths who lacked a father figure, making employers wary of hiring ethnic minorities, he explained.
The minister, speaking to a group of foreign journalists as the government stepped up efforts to improve its image with the foreign media, said: "Since part of society displays this anti-social behaviour, it is not surprising that some of them have difficulties finding work ... Efforts must be made by both sides. If people are not employable, they will not be employed."
I was a little shocked to read this. Not necessarily by the sentiment ... you can't control how people think and prejudice flourishes everywhere ... but rather by the fact that it was a government minister publicly expressing these views. I wondered (and this is my question) what the reaction was in the French press and among the French public. An American government official who made similar remarks would be pilloried in the press and in the court of public opinion, and would probably soon be out looking for a new job. If the Financial Times story is accurate, do you think that Larcher will survive? Or, like Sarkozy's "scum" remark, is he just saying what a lot of people think? Or is the whole think just a tempest in a teapot, and, like the riots, the foreign press is guilty of exaggeration?
I'm a long way from being able to pick up a French newspaper to try to answer my questions myself, so I'm asking what all of you think about it. Don't feel you need to reply unless you want to, but I really am curious.