Activists, however, fear that the focus on hate speech and “anti-white” racism distracts from the very real racism against blacks and immigrants that French society tries to ignore.

“If you ask me, does anti-white racism exist? I can say yes, and this is very good example of it. However, if you ask me is there anti-white discrimination in France? The answer in no,” said Louis-Georges Tin, a representative of black organizations in France. “I don’t think there is anyone in France who didn’t find a job or an apartment because he or she is white.”

The real problem with the conversation that has ensued, Tin said, is false equivalence. “Many conservative people speak of anti-white racism just to put anti-white and anti-black racism on the same level and on the same stage, which is impossible.”