Monday, November 07, 2005

11th Night of Violence in France.

The news is not good this morning. The violence in France continues - mostly in the form of arsons, with over 800 cars destroyed but also but also some public buildings, and even some stores. Not all of it in the poor suburbs. In fact most of it has taken place outside the Paris area but in the south of Paris, in a city called Grigny in Essonne, the police have even been shot (with real bullets) at for the first time. Two of them have been wounded. The only positive note : nothing has happened inside the capital.
I must say that I am baffled by this continuing mayhem. While what happened in the first few days did not surprise me, the latest developments have stunned me. I thought it would die down before. It is not so much the violence but rather the inability for the authorities to restore order and put an end to the whole thing.
The fact that it's happening in many different areas at the same time is worrisome. I don't know how the government is going to break the cycle. I would imagine that a curfew might be the next step... but how do you enforce it?
Interior Minister, Sarkozy is taking some heat, as he should. Here's a very good article in Newsweek which gives a fair assessment of what his responsibility is. At the same time, as much as I think he has made things worse, his resignation would be bad, it would be a sign of weakness that would send the wrong message, that violence can win and rule.
One more thing - there have been many comments ain the French media bout the social problems in the French ghettos. It is worth noticing that most of the youths involved seem to be teenagers under 18. In fact a lot of them are as young as 15, 14, or 13. I am not sure that unemplyment is their main concern (while it may be their parents'). The fact that they are left in the street at night these days is very telling. These are signs of the failures of the parents in the first place but also of the school system, and there is certainly a lot to say about that.

UPDATE: The latest toll of Sunday night’s mayhem is the worst since the riots broke 11 days ago : 1,408 cars torched a well as a church, public buildings and schools 395 arrests and two policemen hit by shotgun fire plus a total of 34 policemen were injured in the latest unrest.
More later....

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