London, Dec 18 (ANI): French president Nicolas Sarkozy made a mockery of the republican principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, denouncing the race and class discrimination that has poisoned France.
But the president's plans to get a more ethnically diverse section of people from disadvantaged estates into France's notoriously elitist top graduate schools, civil service, political parties and the media was greeted with caution by equality campaigners who said they would judge Sarkozy on his results.
The president made an impassioned speech to students at a prestigious graduate school, vowing to end the stranglehold of France's white, monocultural elite, entrenched from the early stages of the education system, the Guardian reported.
He is keen to act on France's poor record on race equality before Barack Obama takes office in January. Sarkozy's advisers have been studying Obama's campaign tactics and rhetoric, which Sarkozy echoed yesterday, hammering out the word "change".
"How can we talk about a republic when your success at school and in professional life depends not on ... merit but largely on your social origin, the neighbourhood where you live, your name or the colour of your skin?" he asked.
He said the republican principle of equality had become more myth than reality.
Discrimination in France remains a taboo subject for politicians. Only one of the 555 MPs from mainland France is non-white.
Sarkozy yesterday accepted that his high-profile appointments of ministers from diverse backgrounds, such as the justice minister, Rachida Dati, were not enough to stop the rot.
He appointed Yazid Sabeg, a business leader of Berber origin, to oversee an equal opportunities plan. (ANI)