On a more positive note, thousands took to the streets in protest following Le Pen's (short-lived) victory and the Front National received a drubbing in the parliamentary elections in June. The elections of 2002 also saw Christiane Taubira become France's first black presidential candidate, receiving 2.3 percent of the vote.
There's a long way to go, however, before France becomes a racially tolerant country, and for the moment being black or Arab makes your chances of experiencing unpleasantness fairly high. It usually takes the form of hotels claiming to be booked up and police demanding your papers, though abuse from ordinary people is not unknown.
If you suffer a racial assault, you're likely to get a more sympathetic hearing from your consulate than from the police. There are many anti-racism organizations which will offer support (though they may not have English-speakers): Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples (MRAP. www.mrap.asso.fr) and SOS Racism (www.sos-racisme.org) have offices in most big cities.
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