In an effort to assess racist sentiment in France a recent poll asked the French how they would react if their children married Muslims and whether they think that there are too many Jews in France. The results turned out to be shocking.
Published in French weekly Le Journal Du Dimanche, the survey which is being termed as “an investigation that’s out of the ordinary, in nature and in scope” was commissioned by the Jewish Foundation of France. It was conducted over a course of 18 months based on French attitudes to racism, religion, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and questioned Muslims and Jews as well as the general population.
The results of the poll carried out by Ipsos paint a picture of prejudice, distrust and division.
The most shocking responses were to the question which was about their likely reaction if their children marry a person from another ethnic group or a person of the same sex, more than half of French respondents said they would not like it if their daughter-in law or son-in-law were Muslim.
Nearly 30 per cent responded ‘yes’ to the question “Do you think a racist reaction can be justified”, and 91 per cent of people said that Jews in France “are very inward-looking” and 56 per cent that they “have a lot of power “and nearly 54 per cent believe that immigration does not benefit France.
The questions put forth by the poll were criticised on social media for being unnecessarily inflammatory and divisive.
The question that drew the sternest criticism asked survey participants if they have “ever personally encountered problems” such as being insulted or assaulted by a range of different religious and ethnic groups, including Roma, Muslims, Jews, people from the Maghreb and those from sub-Saharan Africa.
Twitter users, including several French politicians from both the left and right, claimed that the question not only wrongly conflates ethnicity with religion, but also asks people to make suppositions about the beliefs and origins of others.
Ariel Goldmann, president of the French Judaism Foundation, however, defended the poll, saying in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche itself that it was a “serious study” that was intended to “raise the alarm”.