A brain drain affecting the euro second largest economy due to racism and islamophobia ? 

by 16 February 2023

A new study set to publish in coming weeks in the academic journal Modern & Contemporary France, by Olivier Esteves, a professor at University of Lille has found that a number of Muslims, mostly highly-educated employees are leaving France,mainly due to the culture of hostility and religious discrimination in the country. According to a 2019 poll by market research firm Ifop, 42% Muslims declared that they have encountered discrimination.

After surveying 1,074 Muslims who left France, he found that more than two-thirds said they relocated to practice their religion more freely, while 70% said they left to face less frequent incidents of racism and discrimination.

Has islamophobia in the job market been taken seriously ?

A 2016 study finds that one fifth of all islamophobic discriminations in France occur at work, and a 2021 government report found that job candidates with Arab-sounding names have a 32% less chance of being called in for an interview than their non-Arab-sounding-named counterparts. Those worrying numbers are leading to an important question : 

Has Islamophobia and its effects in the job market been taken seriously ? 

“What’s ironic is that France pays for these people’s education, yet the country loses that highly-skilled talent because of rampant institutional Islamophobia,” Esteves said. 

It seems France would rather waste public money on educating citizens, knowing that a part of them will leave due to rampant islamophobia than deploying ambitious anti-islamophobia policies to retain those talented and highly-skilled french muslims into the french economy. 

“There’s a very clear rise of Islamophobia in France, unlike anything else in Europe,” said Karim Ridwan, an activist at the non-profit Collective for Countering Islamophobia in Europe, which tracks incidents against Muslims. “The Anglo Saxon world is much more welcoming in comparison.”

Workers know they can’t entirely escape anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, but they say the discrimination is more prominent in France — and that it’s become noticeably worse.

A steady rise of anti-muslim policies 

Islamophobic attitudes, fueled animosity toward the Muslim population by far-right groups, but also Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government series of policies claiming to curb radical Islamic terrorism, has created a culture of hostility towards Muslims and Islamic practices and ultimately led to a massive brain drain in the country home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. 

Since 2015, France has passed a series of laws that Muslims say have restricted some of their freedoms. In 2016, a law was introduced limiting the wearing of overt religious symbols — such as hijabs — at work. In 2017, Macron’s government passed legislation putting the appointment of imams under severe government scrutiny, part of a larger effort that he said would help stop the spread of radical Islam. The government has also shut down several Muslim-run groups, such as mosques, charities, and nonprofits, including the Collective against Islamophobia in France, founded in 2004 that has been documenting the phenomenon since then and pointing out the increase of Islamophobic attacks year after year. 

In 2021, the then higher education minister said he wanted to curb academics of allegedly far-left Islamist ideologies, something he referred to as Islamo-gauchisme.
The media environment has also presented a more negative view of Muslims, academics say, bolstered during the 2022 presidential campaign by far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, who devoted much of their election speeches to the “dangers of Islam.”

Source : Discrimination Is Pushing Muslim Professionals to Leave France – Bloomberg

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