Chanting: “We are all the children of immigrants”, thousands of people marched on Paris to call for an end to racism.
It marks the 30th anniversary of the first national anti-racist movement in France, SOS Racisme.
The march takes on a stronger significance as in recent weeks, the French Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira has been subject to racist slurs.
“There have been more and more racist speeches that have become commonplace these last few weeks,” noted Socialist Party leader Harlem Désir. “We have heard things that cannot be tolerated. We have seen front pages of extreme right-wing papers comparing the Justice Minister to a monkey, we have seen these manipulated children who were showing bananas when the minister passed by.”
The Taubira affair has opened up public debate on how racist the country is and whether racism is on the rise.
“I think that racism has been there for a long time in France,” said one woman attending the demo. She added: “The speeches are increasing and I want to show that we are here and we occupy public space to say that we exist and confront this ideology that permits itself to be expressed in public.”
The National Commission for the Rights of Man in France reported a 23 percent increase in incidents of racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism last year, a figure that will force a lot of soul searching in French society.