Now the French Must Prove They're French
2010-01-20 0:00

By Bruce Crumley | TIME.com


Like his father before him, French publisher, author and political commentator Eric Naulleau was born into a military family assigned to a temporary foreign posting. But because his birth happened abroad, where his father — himself born in Lebanon to a French army father — was serving France's national interests, Naulleau has had to wage a long and surreal battle with the government to prove that he's actually a French citizen. Naulleau is just one of a growing number of French people born outside France or in the country to foreign parents who are now being told they must present documents supporting their nationality if they want to keep it.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that with the increasingly strict obligation to prove your citizenship, you can walk into a state administration today to have your ID or passport renewed, and walk out virtually a stateless person," says Naulleau, 48, whose family had been posted to Baden-Baden, Germany — about 30 miles from the French border — when he was born in 1961. "The situation is creating a two-class system of citizenship in which French nationals born abroad or to foreign parents are treated as inferior, and forced to prove their worthiness of being French more than others."


Why is this happening? For years, applicants for new passports and ID cards relied on their expiring documents to prove their identities and French nationality. But in the mid-1990s, the country started strengthening the verification requirements on suspicions that significant numbers of foreigners had made bogus claims of citizenship to obtain French passports. In the past few years, the rules have become even more stringent. According to the Justice Ministry, about 18,000 people, or 12% of all those who tried to renew their passports or ID cards, were rebuffed in 2007 because they didn't have irrefutable proof of nationality — up from 8,000 people, or 5%, in 2002.

Authorities say they are merely making necessary updates to the nationality verification process — not an illogical move, they note, in a world where terrorism and identity theft has become more commonplace. Perhaps, detractors say, but those French citizens born overseas or in France to foreign-born parents are facing a trial that their peers are not. While the latter group can often rely on the French state to check official records to prove their citizenship, people born in former French colonies to naturalized immigrant parents or to French families abroad are being subjected to a paper chase that often leads to dead ends. Many fear they may lose their French nationality altogether.


Concern has reached such a level that the French media are now sounding alarm bells. The daily Libération, for instance, ran a story on the issue Monday under the headline: "The French People That France Rejects." Some reports have detailed the incredible lengths that these "rejects" have had to go through to obtain the required certificates of nationality for themselves, their parents and, at times, their grandparents.
Take England-born Sophie Giraud, a 39-year-old marketing executive in Lyon, for instance. French officials insisted that she obtain official birth certificates for several family members, which they said the government should accept as proof of their citizenship — and, by extension, hers. "I had my expired passport, my identity card and proof of my parents' nationality before their eyes, and they didn't hesitate to become more absurd by asking for proof of my grandparents' citizenship," says Giraud, who had planned a trip abroad and ended up obtaining a British passport by mail in a week. "Why isn't it their responsibility to prove my earlier passport and ID weren't obtained by fraud since the same administration asking for proof of citizenship now provided them?" Naulleau ultimately beat the system by requesting French citizenship through his naturalized, Bulgaria-born wife. But this isn't an option that is open to most people.


Many pundits have denounced the dramatic stiffening of rules, saying it has coincided with the conservative-led government's recent obsession with immigration, the place of Islam in French society and the current state of French national identity. Critics argue that conservatives are trying to stoke nationalist sentiment to gain the support of right-wing voters. "In recent years, France has stopped its offensive of exporting its universal values globally, and shrunk into a defensive position that views everything outside it as threatening and corrupting," Naulleau says. "That now even includes most foreign-born French people, though clearly not the big shots like [former president] Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who hasn't faced the same problems I have despite having been born in Germany, too."

Article from: TIME.com




Related Articles
Photo Gallery: French crack down on migrants
France mulls 'psychological violence' ban
France 2 Backs Away from Real Debate, Censors Niels Harrit and Éric Laurent
Wave of worker suicides at France Telecom
Strange 'Squid-like' Lightning Spotted over France
Scientology trial due in France
France Launches New Anti-Zionist Political Party
Europe stuns with €1.5 trillion bank rescue, as France plays role of saviour
Sarkozy - Hello NATO, Goodbye France


Latest News from our Front Page

Why a Caucasian-Japanese is not Percieved as Japanese
2015-08-04 2:15
The Japan Times has a hilarious article about a White guy who is angry and upset at the horrible and racist world we live in because customs agents and border agents are questioning his "right to be Japanese." It's seems that Debito Arodou's experience at border crossings suggest that no one takes a White guy seriously, for claiming to be Japanese. Hmm, ...
"Open the border - we're going to the UK!" Chanting mob of 200 storm Eurotunnel
2015-08-04 1:25
Migrants make their way towards the Tunnel entrance in the early hours of Sunday morning An organised mob of 200 migrants charged into the Calais entrance of the Channel Tunnel early yesterday, chanting ‘open the borders’ and demanding to be allowed into Britain. They tore down fences and charged past police, who retaliated by spraying tear gas. When the migrants were finally ...
Forgotten British Heroes Campaign
2015-08-04 0:16
The text of the letter from the Forgotten British Heroes Campaign to the Israel ambassador in London, Daniel Taub. This will be delivered to the Israel Embassy on Saturday 1st August, the day on which the Campaign will hold a wreath-laying and then a meeting at the site of a notorious Zionist terrorist bombing near to Trafalgar Square (the former British ...
Baltimore Murders Tie Records After Freddie Gray Killing, 45 Killed In July To Make It The Deadliest Month In At Least 45 Years
2015-08-03 23:14
The number of people murdered in Baltimore hit a record-tying 45 homicides for the month of July, the Baltimore Sun is reporting. The number is an uptick that follows a trend of increased violence in the city in the months after the Baltimore riots that resulted from the death of unarmed black man Freddie Gray on April 12. The increased violence in Baltimore, which was already one ...
Executive arrested over disappearance of $390 million in Bitcoins
2015-08-03 23:38
Mark Karpeles, head of collapsed MTGox Bitcoin exchange held by Japanese police Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said. France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange's computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, ...
More News »