04 August 2010

France: creating second class citizens

Reported by Bloomberg (and other media outlets)

The French government will present a bill in September empowering it to strip naturalized citizens of their French nationality if they commit serious crimes, Immigration Minister Eric Besson said.

The law would apply to people who have been French for less than 10 years and who commit crimes punishable by more than five years in prison, Besson told journalists after leaving a Cabinet meeting today in Paris.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, responding to a recent spate of riots and violent crimes, said in a July 30 speech in the Alpine city of Grenoble that violent criminals with “foreign origins” should be stripped of their citizenship. There was a night of rioting in Grenoble last month after police shot dead an armed 27-year-old of North African origin who led them on a car chase after robbing a casino.

Read more. See also reporting in Le Figaro (in French).

For a nation that has liberté, égalité, fraternité as its national motto, it is strange that they plan to create a separate class of citizenship for the foreign born. The concept of citizenship is that once it is conferred, that person would be treated equally like other citizens irrespective of country of birth. The same laws should apply equally to all.

Applying different laws to a notionally different class of citizens undermines the concept of equality and citizenship. Citizenship can't be conditional. Either a person is or isn't a citizen.

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