Muslim Professionals Are Leaving France Due To Discrimination

After facing rejection from around 50 consulting job interviews in France despite his strong qualifications, Muslim business school graduate Adam decided to start anew in Dubai.
paris france
Image: cyril mzn

“I feel much better here than in France,” the 32-year-old of North African descent told AFP. “We’re all equal. You can have a boss who’s Indian, Arab, or a French person,” he added. “My religion is more accepted.”

Highly-qualified French citizens from Muslim backgrounds, often the children of immigrants, are quietly leaving France in a brain drain, seeking opportunities in cities like London, New York, Montreal, or Dubai, according to a recent study.

The authors of “France, you love it but you leave it,” published last month, found that 71 percent of over 1,000 survey respondents had left partly due to racism and discrimination.

Islamophobia

Adam, who requested anonymity for his surname, shared that his new job in the United Arab Emirates has provided him with a fresh outlook. In France, “you need to work twice as hard when you come from certain minorities,” he noted.

While he expressed gratitude for his French education and missed his friends, family, and the rich cultural life of France, he was relieved to leave behind its “Islamophobia” and “systemic racism,” which included frequent police stops without cause.

France has a long history of immigration, particularly from its former colonies in North and West Africa. However, the descendants of Muslim immigrants report an increasingly hostile environment, especially after the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

They argue that France’s strict secularism, which bans all religious symbols in public schools, disproportionately affects Muslim women.

Another French Muslim, a 33-year-old tech employee of Moroccan descent, told AFP he and his pregnant wife plan to move to a “more peaceful society” in Southeast Asia.

While he would miss France’s “sublime” cuisine and bakery queues, he felt suffocated by the “ambient gloom” and media scapegoating of Muslims. Despite his high income and tax contributions, he faced constant humiliation, including frequent questioning about his presence in his own apartment building.

Racism

A 1978 French law bans collecting data on race, ethnicity, or religion, making it difficult to compile broad statistics on discrimination.

However, a 2017 report by France’s rights ombudsman found that young people “perceived as black or Arab” are 20 times more likely to face an identity check than others.

The Observatory for Inequalities notes that while racism is reportedly declining, a job candidate with a French name still has a 50 percent better chance of being called by an employer than one with a North African name.

A third professional, a 30-year-old Franco-Algerian with two master’s degrees from top schools, told AFP he is leaving for a job in Dubai in June due to the increasingly “complicated” situation in France.

Second Class Citizens

Despite enjoying his current role, he felt he had hit a “glass ceiling” and observed a political shift to the right. “The atmosphere in France has deteriorated,” he said, pointing to pundits who equate people of his background with extremists or troublemakers. “Muslims are second-class citizens.”

Adam, the consultant, emphasized that the emigration of privileged French Muslims is just the “tiny visible part of the iceberg.” Reflecting on the current state of France, he said, “When we see France today, we’re broken.”

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