The French national railroad company banned black and Arab employees from working at a Paris train station during a visit by Israeli President Shimon Peres for “security reasons,” a recent union statement revealed.
In a statement issued on April 10 and made public by French investigative news outlet Mediapart, railroad workers union SUD Rail revealed that the SNCF for excluded its black and Arab workers from working at the Gare du Nord on March 8, as Peres arrived by train from Belgium.
The SNCF – the French acronym for the national railroad company – and one of its subsidiaries justified the decision by saying there shouldn’t be “Muslim employees welcoming the Israeli head of state,” the statement quoted.
The head of SNCF subsidiary ITIREMIA later confirmed that workers had been removed based on their race as a “precautionary principle” to “protect employees from the humiliation they might encounter” at the hands of security personnel.
The SNCF said the decision had come from the French interior ministry and the Israeli embassy, but employees are arguing that the decision was taken by the company itself.
In addition to selecting staff in contact with Peres based on race, a non-white train controller was also allegedly barred from checking the wagon Peres was traveling in, and an Arab train conductor was prevented from going through a part of Gare du Nord near Peres to reach his train.
SUD Rail said its committee on hygiene, security and work conditions has launched an investigation into the discriminatory acts.