Day 5 - 1.12.2014 - 19:41 - France -

GenSep Report: In the shade of Front National? The French society in change

By Metin Gülmen 

The bells of the nearby church already ring, as a drizzle starts in Toulouse this morning. Tien Tran takes his chair in front of the bistro. „99 percent of my identity is French“, the Paris-born guy whose parents are of a Vietnamese descent says. He explains that he neither speaks the Vietnamese language nor knows the culture. However there are racist hostilitys against him because of his Asian look. He is an example for the fact that descendants of the immigrant generation are still called “strangers “. „Toulouse belongs to the most tolerant cities in France. It is an ideal place for a multicultural society“, says Tien who also lived in Marseille for a long time. In contrast to that there are many racists and legal populists in the southeast of France. This is because of the fact that the social differences are too big: „If you come from an immigrant family, you have it much harder. And the better breadwinners let you feel this clearly.“

Foto Tien01
Tien Tran

Front National as a side effect

Tien is a photographer and portrays people in different life situations: Sometimes there sits a married couple on the couch, sometimes the picture shows young jumping women. He is very proud on photos he has taken in South America and Africa. They show impressive parts of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, but also street children in Peru. He has seen and experienced poverty – and knows how difficult it is to be accepted in a society under this circumstances. „Most of my friends are tired of the constant consumption drunkenness. We always buy the newest iPhone, the newest computer, the newest clothes. Just to be better perceived. However, I believe, this time is going to end because the society in France changes.“ Traditional values as represented by Front National „have a fertile soil in our society. But only for a short time because these values have got lost to us by the consumption drunkenness.“ Thats how Tien explains the victory of Front National at the European Elections in May 2014 to himself. Nevertheless he does not think that Front National can have the political power permanently: „The FN is a temporary phenomenon which remains strong only for some years. People are afraid of the change and then seek shelter in old values. If one looks at the history, this has always been the case.“

„We must conclude this change!“ 

Fact is that many different cultures live together in France. „The best way to handle this, is to respect it. Front National thinks that one must stamp a “French” culture to all these people. However, this is impossible because every culture has it’s own variety“, thinks the artist and demands: „The French society has to understand what the different cultures can reach together. We must develop these values as a society, and do not allow to determine this from the politics. The only question for us in France is how we see ourselves mutually in France. And this is the challenge for our generation, not for the old people. We must conclude this change!“ If we do not succeed, Front National will gain furthermore victories: „Front National is able to mobilise it’s voters. Their opponents do not vote because they are disappointed of politics“, analyses Tien. If the identity change is concluded in France, according to Tien, there won’t be any more chances for populists in the new French society. Is there a „Generation Separation“ under this circumstances in Toulouse? „This generation is growing, but not as a separation movement, but as a generation of the fusion, which only leaves small space for the populist movements“, the experienced photographer predicts.