World

French government tries to heal 'apartheid' in troubled suburbs after terrorist attacks

  • FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo, women walk in the streets of Montfermeil, outside Paris. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” in the suburbs, or "banlieues," tinderboxes of social discontent where the values that bind the nation are often absent. They house France’s poorest, especially minorities with immigrant roots, including many Muslims from former French colonies. (AP Photo/Elaine Ganley, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo, women walk in the streets of Montfermeil, outside Paris. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” in the suburbs, or "banlieues," tinderboxes of social discontent where the values that bind the nation are often absent. They house France’s poorest, especially minorities with immigrant roots, including many Muslims from former French colonies. (AP Photo/Elaine Ganley, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, the mayor of Grigny, Philippe Rio, poses for a photo with buildings of the Grande Borne in the background, during an interview with The Associated Press in Grigny, a suburb south of Paris. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” in the suburbs, or "banlieues," tinderboxes of social discontent where the values that bind the nation are often absent. They house France’s poorest, especially minorities with immigrant roots, including many Muslims from former French colonies. (AP Photo/John Leicester, File)

    FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, the mayor of Grigny, Philippe Rio, poses for a photo with buildings of the Grande Borne in the background, during an interview with The Associated Press in Grigny, a suburb south of Paris. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” in the suburbs, or "banlieues," tinderboxes of social discontent where the values that bind the nation are often absent. They house France’s poorest, especially minorities with immigrant roots, including many Muslims from former French colonies. (AP Photo/John Leicester, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Aly Sacko, who works with youth in Clichy-Sous-Bois, stands in hallway that serves as meeting place for youth, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” that especially affects troubled suburbs or “banlieues,” tinderboxes of discontent where values that bind the nation are often absent. (AP  Photo/Elaine Ganley)

    Aly Sacko, who works with youth in Clichy-Sous-Bois, stands in hallway that serves as meeting place for youth, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid” that especially affects troubled suburbs or “banlieues,” tinderboxes of discontent where values that bind the nation are often absent. (AP Photo/Elaine Ganley)  (The Associated Press)

France's prime minister is launching a new bid to heal what he called a nation fractured between haves and have-nots, after terrorist attacks exposed long-simmering discrimination and social and religious tensions.

Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid" in the suburbs, or "banlieues," ringing France's major cities, where neglected housing projects are home mainly to minorities with immigrant roots.

Valls is holding a special government meeting Thursday to address the problem. His proposals will not be the first.

France's suburbs have haunted French leaders for at least 25 years. Long havens for drug-dealing and other crimes, they took on new visibility with the attacks this month by French Islamic radicals who had lived in such neighborhoods. Twenty people, including the gunmen, were killed.