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French government reports 2005 decline in racial, religious attacks

[JURIST] French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official website, BBC profile] announced [press release] Monday that the number of anti-Semitic and racist acts reported in France [JURIST news archive] dropped significantly in 2005. Anti-Semitic acts (defined as violence or threats of violence) dropped 47 percent, while racist and xenophobic acts decreased by 22 percent. De Villepin noted the decreases while promising more measures to target discrimination. In October, riots [JURIST report] started by immigrant youth broke out across the country and lasted three weeks, leading the government to declare a state of emergency. A law [text in French; Guardian report] passed in February 2005 requiring French history teachers to stress the positive role of French colonialism also precipitated domestic controversy, tension [JURIST report] with Algeria, and a call [JURIST report] by President Jacques Chirac [official profile] for the law to be overturned. France is home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations. De Villepin's announcement came the same day that a new French poll [AFP report] indicated that more than four of every five French people believe their government has not yet come up with a solution to the ethnic discrimination problem. Reuters has more.

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