France’s employment minister on Tuesday fingered polygamy as one reason for the rioting in the country.
Gérard Larcher said multiple marriages among immigrants was one reason for the racial discrimination which ethnic minorities faced in the job market. Overly large polygamous families sometimes led to anti-social behaviour among youths who lacked a father figure, making employers wary of hiring ethnic minorities, he explained.
The minister, speaking to a group of foreign journalists as the government stepped up efforts to improve its image with the foreign media, said: “Since part of society displays this anti-social behaviour, it is not surprising that some of them have difficulties finding work … Efforts must be made by both sides. If people are not employable, they will not be employed.”
The riots, and the government’s slow reaction to the violence, has led to widespread criticism that France’s ruling class is out of touch with the rest of the country. Mr Larcher’s comments could further fuel the debate and are likely to outrage Muslim and anti-racism groups in France.