Silent struggles: Confronting Anti-Asian racism in France

Silent struggles: Confronting Anti-Asian racism in France

A Paris court has convicted four young adults in France guilty of “public insult of racist nature and incitement to commit a crime” for posting anti-Asian tweets that blamed Chinese people for the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the four students, who are between the ages of 19 and 24, were ordered to reimburse the plaintiffs’ legal bills as well as almost €1,000 in damages and interest. Prosecutor’s office noted that a fifth person in the case was found not guilty. One of the case’s plaintiffs, Soc Lam, is an attorney for the Association of Young Chinese People in France. He stated that the trial had “brought the judges’ and public’s attention to this phenomenon, so that those messages of hate stop.”

Prevalence of Anti-Asian racism

The coronavirus epidemic “uncovered new dimensions of anti-Asian racism in France,” which was released by the Institute of National Demographic Studies in France. The survey stated that xenophobia “moves further in public spaces, to verbal or physical assault, beyond social networks, where racist comments break free and where clichés become commonplace.” 

An inquiry into a gang of Chinese immigrants in the Paris region is still underway, and the results show a “diversity” of attacks. “Many express their unwillingness to wear masks for fear of becoming the target of an attack; some decide not to wear masks to minimize the risk, while others wear them but find them uncomfortable,” the statement read. One of the study’s female participants stated that she had experienced verbal abuse, including others calling her “corona.” Asian kids who experienced bullying at school claimed they were referred to as “viruses.”

Political responses and activism

Reports of anti-East and anti-Southeast Asian hate crimes have surged in Western nations as the epidemic has spread; in many cases, this has been made worse by political discourse highlighting China’s role in the Covid-19 outbreak. Advocates claim that in this context, racism has targeted persons of East Asian and Southeast Asian ancestry more frequently. 

The Center for the research of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino shows that recorded hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the country’s major cities and counties have increased by 164% since this time last year. In an effort to combat an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes brought on by the epidemic, US President Joe Biden signed a measure into law, claiming it is the first step toward the country’s unification. However, for historical reasons, several European nations including France, Germany, and Belgium do not gather demographic statistics on ethnicity, which makes it challenging to determine the precise scope of the issue.

Media representation and stereotypes

The Association of Young Chinese of France (AJCF) president, Laetitia Chhiv, took the tweets seriously. She told the three-judge panel how shocked she was to find postings on social media encouraging violence against Chinese people when she looked at her phone. “I never saw that,” Chhiv said. “This form of racism has become normalized, and it really hit me.” A dedicated team established in January to combat hate speech online started the trial. The first-ever process for the unit was characterized by Chhiv as a “key moment” for the Asian community in France. The 35-year-old activist remarked, “That we’re talking about the Asian community for an inaugural affair, that’s really something.” 

Together with representatives from seven organizations that support French citizens of Asian heritage, Chhiv attended a meeting with Élisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity, and Equal Opportunities, to talk about the government’s commitment to combating racism and discrimination. There were also two politicians present who contributed to a study on racism in France. The verdict is anticipated. According to Chhiv, the “exponential rise” in the number of discrimination claims her organization has received since the end of January 2020 is evidence that there has been an increase in anti-Asian racism in France in 2020, as mentioned in the study. 

Boycott Paris 2024: Condemning Anti-Asian racism in France

The boycott of the Paris Olympic Games in 2024 is gaining traction due to the rise of anti-Asian racism in France. Recent incidents, including hate speech on social media and physical assaults, have sparked outrage among Asian communities. Advocates argue that hosting the Olympics in such an environment would legitimize discrimination.


In conclusion, dozens of people gathered outside the Paris courthouse to demonstrate against anti-Asian racism. They held placards that said, “In Atlanta or in Paris, no to anti-Asian racism,” which was a reference to the six Asian women who were shot and killed in the US state of Georgia. 



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