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Banlieue blues

Few residents of the French tower-block estates believe the result of the election will make any difference to their lives

By Shereen El Feki   May 2007

“Connerie”—it’s one of those French words with an extra meaning for English ears—not just “a bloody stupid thing,” its literal translation, but a hint of “con,” or pulling wool over eyes. That pretty well sums up how people see France’s presidential hopefuls from the streets of Clichy-sous-Bois and Les Bosquets—housing estates on the northern outskirts of Paris where the riots of 2005 ignited. “Des conneries, des conneries et plus de conneries,” says Gouneidi Traore, a twentysomething photographer and social worker, when asked about candidates’ proposals to deal with France’s troubled banlieue, home to millions of Arab and African immigrants.

“Banlieue”…

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