france muslim job discrimination
Studies have shown that many French citizens associate Islam with religious extremism and oppression of women. Pictured: A child walked near members of the Muslim community attending midday prayers at Strasbourg Grand Mosque in Strasbourg, France, in 2013. Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Muslim men have faced an alarming rate of job discrimination in France, according to a new study of employment in the European nation. Males who are self-identified Muslims are more than four times less likely to get a job interview in France than their Catholic counterparts are, according to research by the Montaigne Institute, a Paris-based think tank that promotes economic and social justice policy.

Practicing Muslims had a 4.7 percent chance of being asked to interview for a job, compared to a 17.9 percent chance for practicing Catholics, according to the study published Thursday. Job application discrimination against French Jews was not as pronounced, with job seekers having a 15.8 percent chance of getting callbacks.

The study comes 10 months after an attack by Islamic militants on the satirical periodical Charlie Hebdo in Paris, along with other terroristic violence, forced a conversation about Islamophobia in France and other Western nations. Although France has enacted measures to discourage racial and religious discrimination, an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment has many communities outraged.

"[The study] probably underestimates the level of discrimination… [which is] present at each step of recruitment," said Marie-Anne Valfort, a senior lecturer at Sorbonne University in Paris, who carried out the study. Valfort sent 6,231 responses to employer job advertisements between 2013 and 2014, according to a Times of India report.

Studies have shown that many French citizens associate Islam with religious extremism and oppression of women, Valfort said. "These two stereotypes feed a very strong discrimination, particularly regarding male Muslims,” she added. “The recruiter perceives an increased risk of transgressive religious practice in the workplace and associates it with a risk of insubordination."

Even when two male job applicants are equally qualified for the position, the gifted Catholic man was five times more likely to get an interview than the talented Muslim man, according to the study. The Catholic man was 1.5 times more likely to get an interview than a gifted Jew.

The French government earlier this year debated requiring anonymous resumes submission for job seekers, but instead emphasized anti-discrimination training and punishments for offenders, according to the Times of India report. Employers found guilty of discrimination face up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, or $50,000.

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