Cablegate: Embassy Paris - Minority Engagement Strategy

DE RUEHFR #0058/01 0190924
P 190924Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000058


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2019

B. PARIS 1714

Classified By: Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, Reasons 1.4(b),(d).

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: In keeping with France's unique history
and circumstances, Embassy Paris has created a Minority
Engagement Strategy that encompasses, among other groups, the
French Muslim population and responds to the goals outlined
in reftel A. Our aim is to engage the French population at
all levels in order to amplify France's efforts to realize
its own egalitarian ideals, thereby advancing U.S. national
interests. While France is justifiably proud of its leading
role in conceiving democratic ideals and championing human
rights and the rule of law, French institutions have not
proven themselves flexible enough to adjust to an
increasingly heterodox demography. We believe that if
France, over the long run, does not successfully increase
opportunity and provide genuine political representation for
its minority populations, France could become a weaker, more
divided country, perhaps more crisis-prone and
inward-looking, and consequently a less capable ally. To
support French efforts to provide equal opportunity for
minority populations, we will engage in positive discourse;
set a strong example; implement an aggressive youth outreach
strategy; encourage moderate voices; propagate best
practices; and deepen our understanding of the underlying
causes of inequality in France. We will also integrate the
efforts of various Embassy sections, target influential
leaders among our primary audiences, and evaluate both
tangible and intangible indicators of the success of our
strategy. END SUMMARY.

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2. (C/NF) France has long championed human rights and the
rule of law, both at home and abroad, and justifiably
perceives itself as a historic leader among democratic
nations. This history and self-perception will serve us well
as we implement the strategy outlined here, in which we press
France toward a fuller application of the democratic values
it espouses. This strategy is necessary because French
institutions have not proven themselves flexible enough to
adjust to the country's increasingly heterodox demography.
Very few minorities hold leadership positions in France's
public institutions. As President Sarkozy's own Diversity
Czar Yazid Sabeg told Ambassador Rivkin in December, the
National Assembly "serves as a mirror of the crisis of
representation in France" (reftel B). The National Assembly,
among its 577 deputies, has a single black member from
metropolitan France (excluding its island territories), but
does not have any elected representatives of Muslim or Arab
extraction, though this minority group alone represents
approximately 10 percent of the population. The Senate has
two Muslim Senators (out of 343), but no black
representatives and only a few Senators hail from other
ethnic or religious minorities. Sabeg also noted that none
of France's approximately 180 Ambassadors is black, and only
one is of North African descent. Despite Sarkozy's
appointment of leaders such as Rachida Dati, Fidela Amara and
Rama Yade, minorities continue to confront a very thick glass
ceiling in France's public institutions. The French media
remains overwhelmingly white, with only modest increases in
minority representation on camera for major news broadcasts.
Among French elite educational institutions, we are only
aware that Sciences Po has taken serious steps to integrate.
While slightly better represented in private organizations,
minorities in France lead very few corporations and
foundations. Thus the reality of French public life defies
the nation's egalitarian ideals. In-group, elitist politics
still characterize French public institutions, while extreme
right, xenophobic policies hold appeal for a small (but
occasionally influential) minority. Post will continue to
explore other underlying causes of the social, political and
economic barriers impeding the advancement of minorities in
France (see Tactic 6, below).

3. (C/NF) France suffers consequences when its leading
institutions fail to reflect the composition of its
population. We believe France has not benefited fully from
the energy, drive, and ideas of its minorities. Despite some
French claims to serve as a model of assimilation and
meritocracy, undeniable inequities tarnish France's global
image and diminish its influence abroad. In our view, a
sustained failure to increase opportunity and provide genuine
political representation for its minority populations could
render France a weaker, more divided country. The
geopolitical consequences of France's weakness and division
will adversely affect U.S. interests, as we need strong
partners in the heart of Europe to help us promote democratic

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values. Moreover, social exclusion has domestic consequences
for France, including the alienation of some segments of the
population, which can in turn adversely affect our own
efforts to fight global networks of violent extremists. A
thriving, inclusive French polity will help advance our
interests in expanding democracy and increasing stability


4. (C/NF) The overarching goal of our minority outreach
strategy is to engage the French population at all levels in
order to help France to realize its own egalitarian ideals.
Our strategy has three broad target audiences in mind: (1)
the majority, especially the elites; (2) minorities, with a
focus on their leaders; (3) and the general population.
Employing the seven tactics described below, we aim (1) to
increase awareness among France's elites of the benefits of
expanding opportunity and the costs of maintaining the status
quo; (2) to improve the skills and grow the confidence of
minority leaders who seek to increase their influence; (3)
and to communicate to the general population in France that
we particularly admire the diversity and dynamism of its
population, while emphasizing the advantages of profiting
from those qualities by expanding opportunities for all.


5. (C/NF) First, we will focus our discourse on the issue of
equal opportunity. When we give public addresses about the
community of democracies, we will emphasize, among the
qualities of democracy, the right to be different, protection
of minority rights, the value of equal opportunity, and the
importance of genuine political representation. In private
meetings, we will deliberately direct questions about equal
opportunity in France to high-level, non-minority French
leaders. Rather than retreating from discussions involving
two sacred cows in France -- the concepts of "secularism" and
"communitarianism" -- we will engage French leaders directly
about the role that their terminology and intellectual
frameworks could play in creating (or diminishing) equality
of opportunity in France. We will endeavor to convey the
costs to France of the under-representation of minorities,
highlighting the benefits we have accumulated, over time, by
working hard to chip away at the various impediments faced by
American minorities. We will, of course, continue to adopt a
humble attitude regarding our own situation in the U.S., but
nevertheless will stress the innumerable benefits accruing
from a proactive approach to broad social inclusion,
complementing our French partners on any positive steps they
take. In addition, we will continue and intensify our work
with French museums and educators to reform the history
curriculum taught in French schools, so that it takes into
account the role and perspectives of minorities in French


6. (C/NF) Second, we will employ the tool of example. We
will continue and expand our efforts to bring minority
leaders from the U.S. to France, working with these American
leaders to convey an honest sense of their experience to
French minority and non-minority leaders alike. When we send
French leaders to America, we will include, as often as
possible, a component of their trip that focuses on equal
opportunity. In the Embassy, we will continue to invite a
broad spectrum of French society to our events, and avoid, as
appropriate, hosting white-only events, or minority-only
events. We will be inclusive, working in this way to break
down barriers, facilitate communication, and expand networks.
By bringing together groups who would not otherwise interact
together, the Embassy will continue to use its cachet to
create networking opportunities that cut through traditional
cultural and social barriers in France.


7. (C/NF) Third, we will continue and expand our youth
outreach efforts in order to communicate about our shared
values with young French audiences of all socio-cultural
backgrounds. Leading the charge on this effort, the
Ambassador's inter-agency Youth Outreach Initiative aims to
engender a positive dynamic among French youth that leads to
greater support for U.S. objectives and values. Some

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elements of our Youth Outreach Initiative have particular
importance for minorities, including:

-- Drawing heavily on new media, we aim first to build trust
and gain understanding among French youth from diverse

-- While reinforcing mutual trust and understanding, we seek
to help France's next generation improve their capacity to
lead in their communities, while also conveying the
importance of transcending the bounds of their own
communities in order to make a broader, national impact.

-- To achieve these aims, we will build on the expansive
Public Diplomacy programs already in place at post, and
develop creative, additional means to influence the youth of
France, employing new media, corporate partnerships,
nationwide competitions, targeted outreach events, especially
invited U.S. guests.

-- We will also develop new tools to identify, learn from,
and influence future French leaders.

-- As we expand training and exchange opportunities for the
youth of France, we will continue to make absolutely certain
that the exchanges we support are inclusive.

-- We will build on existing youth networks in France, and
create new ones in cyberspace, connecting France's future
leaders to each other in a forum whose values we help to
shape -- values of inclusion, mutual respect, and open


8. (C/NF) Fourth, we will encourage moderate voices of
tolerance to express themselves with courage and conviction.
Building on our work with two prominent websites geared
toward young French-speaking Muslims -- and -- we will support, train, and engage media
and political activists who share our values. As we continue
to meet with moderate leaders of minority groups, we will
also expand our efforts to facilitate grass roots inter-faith
exchanges. We will share in France, with faith communities
and with the Ministry of the Interior, the most effective
techniques for teaching tolerance currently employed in
American mosques, synagogues, churches, and other religious
institutions. We will engage directly with the Ministry of
Interior to compare U.S. and French approaches to supporting
minority leaders who seek moderation and mutual
understanding, while also comparing our responses to those
who seek to sow hatred and discord.


9. (C/NF) Fifth, we will continue our project of sharing
best practices with young leaders in all fields, including
young political leaders of all moderate parties so that they
have the toolkits and mentoring to move ahead. We will
create or support training and exchange programs that teach
the enduring value of broad inclusion to schools, civil
society groups, bloggers, political advisors, and local
politicians. Through outreach programs, Embassy officers
from all sections will interact and communicate to these same
groups our best practices in creating equal opportunities for
all Americans. We will also provide tools for teaching
tolerance to the network of over 1,000 American university
students who teach English in French schools every year.

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10. (C/NF) Sixth, through focused contact work, reporting
and analysis, we will deepen the USG understanding of the
underlying causes of inequality and discrimination in France.
We will break new ground by examining how the very structure
of some French institutions may limit minority representation
in elected office and the high ranks of the civil service.
Examining significant developments in depth, such as the
debate on national identity (reftel B), we plan to track
trends and, ideally, predict change in the status of
minorities in France, estimating how this change will impact
U.S. interests. As our awareness expands and deepens, we
will adjust, accordingly, the minority outreach strategy
described here.

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11. (C/NF) Finally, a Minority Working Group will integrate
the discourse, actions, and analysis of relevant sections and
agencies in the Embassy. This group, working in tandem with
the Youth Outreach Initiative, will identify and target
influential leaders and groups among our primary audiences.
It will also evaluate our impact over the course of the year,
by examining both tangible and intangible indicators of
success. Tangible changes include a measurable increase in
the number of minorities leading and participating in public
and private organizations, including elite educational
institutions; growth in the number of constructive efforts by
minority leaders to organize political support both within
and beyond their own minority communities; new, proactive
policies to enhance social inclusion adopted by non-minority
political leaders; expansion of inter-communal and
inter-faith exchanges at the local level; decrease in popular
support for xenophobic political parties and platforms.
While we could never claim credit for these positive
developments, we will focus our efforts in carrying out
activities, described above, that prod, urge and stimulate
movement in the right direction. In addition, we will track
intangible measures of success -- a growing sense of
belonging, for example, among young French minorities, and a
burgeoning hope that they, too, can represent their country
at home, and abroad, even one day at the pinnacle of French
public life, as president of the Republic.

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