THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2006
Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, Ohio

France and the United States

New Societal Developments and Challenges to a Long-Standing Partnership

Isabelle Marques-Gross, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of France, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Marquès-Gross will address societal issues in France. She will also speak about the French approach on the question of immigration.

Much has been said about the 'failure' of the 'assimilation' model of France after the unrest that took place in its suburbs in 2005. While challenges remain on the socio-economic front, Mrs. Marquès-Gross asserts that the vast majority of the Muslim population in France, the largest in Europe, not only voices its confidence in French society but clearly identifies with the French Nation, its core principles and ideals, rather than with specific religious groups or communities.

Today in France, the Muslim faith, the second after Catholicism, is not considered as a religion apart but has its place, like other faiths. It is no more and no less than that, in the respect of the Republic’s values and spirit, of which secularism is an essential pillar.

Mrs. Marquès-Gross will also discuss how, confronted with the same challenges, France and the U.S. share a strong friendship based on a solid economic relationship and robust common values, even though their respective histories and traditions might lead them to deal with these challenges in different ways.

The mood in France is that, as is the case regarding foreign policy matters, the nation has a better chance to succeed in confronting these challenges by working together. This is why it is important for the people of France and the U.S. to have a good understanding of a number of trends and concerns in both countries. Mrs. Marquès-Gross will address what she considers to be the most important of these.

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