The French government announced on Friday (13) that it would not participate in the next meeting of the United Nations Conference against Racism, scheduled for September. France claims the decision was taken because of anti-Semitic statements made at previous meetings.
Other countries have also warned the United Nations that they will not participate in the event, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. The meeting, scheduled for September 22, marks the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Racism Conference held in Durban, South Africa.
In 2001, the first conference was held a few days before the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and created deep divisions among participants in debates on issues of anti-Semitism, colonialism and slavery. On this occasion, the United States and Israel left the conference to protest the tone of the meeting, after Arab countries attempted to equate Zionism with racism.
Since then, many Western countries, including France, boycotted the Durban follow-up conference in 2009 as well as that of 2011 to protest against the anti-Semitic statements made there.
The Holocaust has been called into question
At the 2011 meeting in Geneva, representatives of European countries left the conference hall during a speech by then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From the central pulpit, Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust an “ambiguous and dubious issue”.
In the statement released by the Élysée on Friday, the French government said that, even without participating in the meeting, it would continue its fight against racism.
“Attached to the universalism of human rights, France will continue to fight against all the forces of racism and will ensure that the Durban follow-up conference is held in accordance with the founding principles of the United Nations”, declared the government .
The rise of anti-Semitism in France
In 2020, President Emmanuel Macron had already delivered a speech warning against “the unbearable resurgence of anti-Semitism in our Europe”, this “underground evil” which can “wear its traditional face” or “take the new masks of Islamist hatred and anti-Zionism “.
Last weekend, a French teacher was arrested for carrying an anti-Semitic poster during a demonstration against the health passport in France.