Montana State University

Former French Minister to speak on immigration, Oct. 31

October 23, 2007 -- MSU News Service


Born to Algerian immigrants in France, Azouz Begag grew up in a shantytown suburb of Lyon. He became the country's first Minister for Equal Opportunities and has written and lectured widely about France's struggles with immigration. (Photo courtesy of Azouz Begag.)   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
Azouz Begag, the first French Minister for Equal Opportunities, will give a free public lecture on "Fighting Racism in France" at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Montana State University in SUB Ballrooms B and C.

Begag was born to Algerian immigrants in France and wrote "Shantytown Kid," the autobiography of his childhood in a shantytown suburb of Lyon, which was made into a film in 1998. The book has sold more than 500,000 copies in France and is part of MSU's French curriculum.

In recent years, France has wrestled with its immigrant populations. In the fall of 2005, protests and riots engulfed the country. More than 200 public buildings were damaged and 10,000 cars burned in 300 cities during three weeks of rioting. Many of the rioters were French citizens of North and West African descent tired of discrimination.

Begag's most recent book, "Ethnicity and Equality: France in the Balance," documents the socioeconomic inequalities, ethnic discrimination, and political neglect that have bred a volatile generation of minority ethnic youths deeply distrustful of a society they believe has failed them.

Begag is a novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and sociologist. He has held visiting positions at Cornell University and Swarthmore College, as well as at Florida State University's Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies.

In addition to his public lecture, Begag will moderate a free public screening of the film "Shantytown Kid," based on his book, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1 in Leon Johnson Hall, Room 339. A dessert reception will follow. Begag will also be available to sign copies of his books at the MSU Bookstore from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1.

Begag is visiting MSU for a week as the guest of French professor Chris Pinet and the College of Letters and Science.

Contact: Chris Pinet, associate professor of French, (406) 994-6444 or umlcp@montana.edu