Wave of urban riots that in autumn 2005 has struck the immigrant dominated suburbs of French cities has brought the problems of immigration to the forefront of public debate in France. According to the national census in 1999, 4,3 m immigrants were resident in France, that is 7.4% of total population. This article attempts to focus on the historical dimension of the problem. From one side it will picture the characteristics of all immigrants waves to France since the beginning of the 19th century until 21th - from the political refugees of the 19th century, through Belgians or Italians looking for work or Poles coming to France during the interwar period up to the waves of workers coming from former colonies or the so-called 'pieds-noirs' and 'hakis'. From the other side, the article shows the evolution of the immigration and integration policy with a special attention to the changes in citizenship legislation. It also pays attention to the cultural differences. The article draws on the research done by immigration scholars like Gérard Noiriel, or Patrick Weil. Special attention is paid to the edited volume by Janine Ponty, 'L'immigration dans les textes. France 1789-2002', (2003). Second kind of scientific publications concerns the debates around Islam. The authoress draws also from the press and Internet sources along with the interviews with main French politicians.
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