French politicians such as President François Hollande hope that Qatari funds will help fight poverty in disadvantaged Muslim neighborhoods, They assume that poverty is the cause of France’s social problems. They should, however, know better. The problems in the suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis and elsewhere are not caused by poverty, but by the unwillingness of many Muslims to integrate into French society.
Qatar announced last February, when Nicolas Sarkozy was still the President of France, that it was willing to invest €50 million ($65 million) in the French banlieues, the suburbs which are home to the vast majority of the six million Muslim immigrants in France. Meanwhile, Qatar has doubled the sum to €100 million, which it is apparently going to spend through an investment fund in support of small businesses owned by Muslims. Last month, the French government approved the fund, which the French newspaper Libération describes as a “Qatari take over of the banlieues.”