Chirac Calls for Scrapping Law on Teaching Colonial History

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French President Jacques Chirac said a law obliging schools to teach a ``positive'' version of the nation's conduct in colonial times should be revised after protests that it was a whitewash.

``It's not up to the law to write history,'' he said today in his annual address to journalists at the Elysee Palace in Paris. ``The current text is dividing French people. It must be re-written.''

After three weeks of violence in poor neighborhoods with large immigrant communities, the opposition Socialist party called in November for a clause of a law approved in February 2005 to be revoked. The clause stated the schools should recognize the ``positive role'' of France's overseas presence, particularly in North Africa.

With the aim of ``bringing people together and calming tempers,'' Chirac, 73, said he's asked the President of the National Assembly Jean-Louis Debre to propose a new law.

The fear of angry protests forced Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to cancel a planned trip to the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in early December. The French colony that became Haiti had about 500,000 slaves in 1789, according to the Web site

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