Députés de la diversité, i.e. deputies of non-European immigrant origin. I wrote on Sunday night that the first Maghrebi/Muslim deputy since 1962 (Algeria’s independence) had just been elected to the National Assembly. In classroom lectures over the years on immigration and Islam in France, I have rhetorically asked my students how many of the 577 deputies in the National Assembly are Muslims—who account for some 7% of the population (and of which Maghrebis are some four-fifths)—, to which I then give the answer: zero. As it happens, there is now not just one but as many as six, and all from the PS. I cited Malek Boutih, the former head of SOS Racisme, born in France to Algerian parents, who was elected from the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois constituency in the Essonne (in the southern banlieues of Paris, previously represented by his erstwhile SOS Racisme mentor, Julian Dray). Boutih has had an increasingly high “diversity” profile in the PS over the past decade and this wasn’t his first attempt at elective office. The other newly elected diversity deputies are Razzy Hammadi, a former head of the PS youth wing (MJS), of Algerian and Tunisian origin, and who defeated the longtime Communist deputy Jean-Pierre Brard in Montreuil (in the neuf-trois); Kheira Bouziane, born in Algeria before independence, who was elected in one of the Dijon constituencies; Chaynesse Khirouni, born in post-independence Algeria and who arrived in France at age 20, elected in Nancy; Kader Arif, born in Algeria, a fils de harki, elected in the Haute-Garonne (though as he is in the government—as minister délégué of war veterans—, he will be ceding his seat to his suppléant); and Seybah Dagoma, born to immigrant parents from Chad and elected in Paris (3e-10e arr.).
To these one may add Pouria Amirshahi, born in Iran in the 1970s and whose parents fled the Shah’s regime, elected in the overseas constituency for North and West Africa; and Eduardo Rihan Cypel, born and raised in Brazil to age ten, elected in the Torcy constituency of the Seine-et-Marne. Some news articles have added George Pau-Lengevin (reelected in Paris 20e arr. and currently in the government), Hélène Geoffroy (elected in Vaulx-en-Velin), and Corinne Narassigiun (elected in the overseas USA-Canada constituency) as diversity deputies, but they all hail from overseas departments (Guadeloupe for the first two, Reunion the latter), so as native-born French citizens they don’t count.
A couple of remarks. These newly elected deputies were elected in single-member constituencies, not on a list in a proportional representation system (which is the norm in Europe, and that makes minority representation in legislative assemblies much easier to assure). Though they were slated by the PS and which financed their campaigns, they had to wage them on their own. Also, with the exception of Hammadi’s in Montreuil, none of these constituencies have large concentrations of immigrant communities from the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa. The kind of gerrymandering that happens in the US—to create majority Black or Latino constituencies—is not only legally impossible and politically inconceivable in France but would be difficult to pull off, as areas with concentrations of “diversity” populations contain large numbers of non-citizens, who would thus not be able to vote.
On the above Muslim deputies, I have no idea if any actually practice the religion (I would rather doubt it for most). As it is a near taboo in France for a politician to publicly discuss his or her religious faith (if s/he has one), one is not likely to find out. As for them being identity Muslims—of saying they are Muslim if the question is put to them—I am simply assuming this. So unless and until any of the Maghreb-origin deputies publicly declare themselves not to be Muslim, I will declare that they are.