Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Riots in Paris Suburbs Getting Worse.

For our readers who do not reside in France, here's the important news making headlines in France. For the last six nights, the police have clashed with angry youth and every night the TV news programs have shown guerilla-like images of those suburbs.
What ignited the whole crisis was the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while trying to hide from the police in Clichy–sous–Bois , northeast of Paris. When word got out, other kids turned to the streets in large numbers and had a major riot, mutinied for hours and hours and pushed a truck into a social security office, attacking a police station, burning up 20 cars and generally running the police.
Now, an element not put forward by most French media is that the the rampage in Clichy-sous-Bois started with an attack on firefighters called in to help the two youth, who died after seeking cover next to an
electrical transformer. A third youth suffered serious burns.
Then the Minister of Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy went to Clichy, got pelted by stones and then called the youth there "scum" or "riffraff," echoing what he said in the past when he had vowed to "clean out" the suburbs.
Needless to say, those tough words only fanned more violence. One thing led to another, including a tear-gas grenade reportedly thrown into a mosque by the police sending Muslims at prayer fleeing into the street. Sarkozy confirmed the tear gas grenade was thrown into a mosque but added that "this doesn't mean it was fired by a police officer".
Sarkozy was on TF1 TV–news last night where he proclaimed 'zero tolerance' for 'those who don't respect Républican order,' and the paper Le Parisien repeated this with its major headline of Tolérance zéro on today's front page. He explained his words by saying
'I speak with real words,'' Sarkozy told Wednesday's Le Parisien newspaper. ''When you fire real bullets at police, you're not a 'youth,' you're a thug.''

While Sarkozy may be right - those youth who rioted because two kids stupidly hid in an electric transformer station should be punished - his bravado attitude can only make things worse.
My teaching experience in those suburbs has taught me that playing those macho games is pointless and often leads to violence. Sarkozy should really learn to act with civility himself and show less of a temper but that is hard when you have such an ego. Imagine a US Attorney General visiting New Orleans saying he's going to "clean up the gangrene".

In the meantime, Chirac is non-existent. He only issued a statement "calling for calm" through his spokesman. It really is about time he retire!


At 13:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

answering to "Yet another night of rioting in some Paris suburbs as you can read here:"

Living inner Paris is more and more expensive and more often people have to move to suburbs. The northeastern one isn’t the best. One more time, after years of promises of jobs, money and other helps nothing has really changed, has it ? How can the youths feel fine when they have many schools difficulties or when theirs parents and themselves don’t work. However many of them really try to be well-assimilated and tend to the best. I do think that the Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has no excuse speaking several times of “racaille”(dog-ass) as if all of the youths behaved in the wrong way. Nothing surprising about these explosion of anger.


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