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New Poll: French Have Mostly Positive Views of Jews, Troubling Sentiment Towards Muslims

A recent poll of French attitudes, on a variety of subjects of interest to ADL, revealed some surprising and unsurprising results. On the social acceptance of Jews in France, there was relatively good news, but the same unfortunately cannot be said about French attitudes towards Muslims. 

The Le Monde – Fondation Jean Jaures survey analyzes attitudes about societal issues and political affiliation.  Over 12,000 people were polled from September 16-20 and the results were published on October 4. 

The vast majority of French respondents, regardless of party, agree that “the manner in which Judaism is practiced in France is compatible with the values of French society.”  While the average of 82% has remained relatively stable over the past 10 years of polling, the political affiliations show greater acceptance among the mainstream parties and less among the far-right in Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party and far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party and Communist Party of France (PCF).  As a far-right party with high acceptance of Judaism, Reconquete’s score may have been influenced by the fact that party founder and leader, Eric Zemmour, is Jewish.  

By contrast, acceptance of Islam descends directly and steeply from left to right and starting from a lower base.  Even the least accepting parties of Judaism – LFI and PCF – are less accepting of Islam, despite being the highest scorers on that question.  The greatest contrast is in Eric Zemmour’s xenophobic Reconquete party, where 85% of its supporters accept Jewish practices as compatible with French values, while only 8% accept Muslim practices as compatible.  Regarding Catholicism, the (more or less) straight line ascends from left to right, the opposite of the tendency for Islam, though not nearly as steeply. 

X is compatible … %

Judaism

Islam

Catholicism

La France Insoumise/Communist Party

75

64

85

Greens

85

61

89

Socialist Party

84

52

91

En Marche (Macron's party)

87

44

93

Les Republicains

90

24

98

Rassemblement National (Le Pen's party)

80

17

94

Reconquete (Zemmour's party)

85

8

98

No political affiliation

79

40

87

france poll

 

The survey also reveals interesting insights about perceptions of discrimination against minorities.  French perceptions about discrimination against Jews and senior citizens were the two categories out of eleven where attitudes were relatively even from left to right, with about half of French respondent, 51%, perceiving significant discrimination against Jews and a range of 7% (45-52%), and 42% perceiving significant discrimination against senior citizens, also with a range of 7% (37-44%).  Perceived discrimination against Roma and LGBTQ minorities had ranges of over 40% while the ranges for North Africans, Muslims and Black Africans were 50%. 

 

Roma

LGBTQ

North Africans

Muslims

Black Africans

Disabled

Women

Jews

Seniors

Asians

Catholics

LFI/PCF

80

73

80

78

76

67

68

52

44

49

18

Greens

84

77

80

70

77

71

71

57

40

49

9

Socialist Party

78

73

77

78

73

60

59

57

41

40

13

En Marche

74

62

69

68

66

51

48

53

37

32

19

Les Republicains

59

49

53

50

48

46

38

48

42

21

30

Rassemblement National

48

55

41

50

40

54

48

45

44

23

36

Reconquete

41

35

29

26

28

42

27

52

42

19

55

No political affiliation

65

63

60

60

57

60

56

49

42

35

23

 

While the data indicate less extreme and less politicized attitudes towards Jews than towards most other minorities, we must not lose sight of the more salient antisemitism factor for French Jews: antisemitic violence.  There were 60 violent antisemitic assaults reported in 2021, which represents about 8 times the number of antisemitic assaults in the US. Overall, there were twice the number of reported antisemitic incidents than anti-Muslim incidents in France, even though the Muslim population is estimated to be over 10 times the Jewish population.

In sum, while the positive perceptions about Jews should be welcomed, France has a long way to go in demonstrating an acceptance of its Muslim community, while also working to ensure the long-term comfort and security for France’s Jewish community.