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New Mobile App Tags Racist Graffiti For Removal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 28 2013

Innocuous French graffiti via Wikipedia

Racism is reportedly on the rise in France, but an anti-racism organization has developed a mobile app that allows users to upload photos of racist graffiti and geo-locate them, making it easier for authorities to find and remove the offending tags from public buildings. LICRA, the International League Against Racism and Anti-semitism, says the app will be available June 11, and that they will work with local authorities to get the graffiti removed.

The AFP reported a number of buildings, mostly mosques, have been defaced recently. One particular mosque in Limoges was defaced at least three times since July 2012 – by racist graffiti, excrement and even what looked like blood.

The French Consultative Commission on Human Rights found more racist acts are being reported to the police: in 2012, there was a 23 percent increase in reported incidents. There was also a 37 percent rise in anti-Semitic acts and a 30 percent jump in Islamophobic incidents. A report by the French Jewish community found that 614 anti-Semitic acts were reported in 2012, versus 389 in 2011.

In a move to discourage the rise in racism, the French government decided to ban the word “race” from the law books, which has “no scientific basis, but which could be seen as giving judicial legitimacy to racist ideologues.” President François Hollande has even promised to remove the word from the French constitution, saying “There is only one race, and one family, the human family.”

However, two sociologists argued in an opinion piece in The Guardian that the law reveals the “longer continental European discomfort with evoking race” and “says more about Europe's view of itself than any real commitment to overcoming racism.”

With that in mind, one wonders if the removal of racist graffiti is another instance of the French trying to put race and racism out of sight, out of mind. Regardless, surely those who frequent the targeted mosques and other public spaces will appreciate the gesture.

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