“On the streets of Paris, a young black man can be six times as likely to be stopped and checked by the police as a young white man. For young males of Arab origin, the figure is even higher: they are at least eight times more likely to be stopped.” Today, Open Society Foundations (OSF) released a story called, “Equality Betrayed: the Impact of Ethnic Profiling in France.” Contrôle au faciès, is a stop and search tactic roughly translated to “being stopped because of the way you look”, routinely practiced by French police. This illegal discrimination seems to target young men of African or Arab ethnicity for identity checks.
“It is then that you realize that you belong to the Republic, you live in the Republic, but you aren’t actually a full citizen. Instead you are a second-class citizen. You are continually reminded that due to your face, due to your skin color, due to your appearance that you are not really from here—even when you are an elected official of the Republic,” says Adji Ahoudian, elected member of the office of the mayor.
Police will stop people in the middle of the street and make them provide proof of identity. This creates an embarrassing situation for citizens undeserving of this discriminatory treatment. Fighting for change, thirteen victims of this biased policing tactic have brought a case before the Tribunal de Grande Instance to bring to light the injustice of being stopped because of their origin or skin color. A ruling is expected by October 2nd, this is the first French ethnic profiling case to be heard by a judge.
“Those who do not live this, this harassment, don’t understand what we are talking about,” says Hicham Kochman, a young artist living in Lille, France. “It’s a daily, ongoing form of humiliation.” Victims of police profiling feel unsafe and intimidated by police presence, rather than feeling protected by law enforcement as they should. “Equality Betrayed: the Impact of Ethnic Profiling in France” addresses these issues, as victims give firsthand accounts of being on the receiving end of this discrimination.
To learn more read the full report from OSF and view Equality Betrayed: A Portrait Series by photojournalist, Ed Kashi (VII). You can also share the report’s Facebook Page and Youtube Video to spread the word.
View another segment of the project highlighted in our April 2013 blog post on Ethnic Profiling in the UK.