French Muslim Riots Growing More Violent

The rioting by French Muslims continues to spread and grow more violent.

Rioting Spreads From Paris Across France (AP)

Widespread riots across impoverished [Muslim -ed.] areas of France took a malevolent turn in a ninth night of violence, as [Muslim -ed.] youths torched an ambulance and stoned medical workers coming to the aid of a sick person. Authorities arrested more than 200 people, an unprecedented sweep since the beginning of the unrest. Bands of [Muslim -ed.] youths also burned a nursery school, warehouses and more than 750 cars overnight as the violence that spread from the restive Paris suburbs to towns around France. The U.S. warned Americans against taking trains to the airport through the affected areas.

At the nursery school in Acheres, west of Paris, part of the roof was caved in, childrens’ photos stuck to blackened walls, and melted plastic toys littered the floor. The town had been previously untouched by the violence. Some residents demanded that the army be deployed, or that citizens rise up and form militias. At the school gate, the mayor tried to calm tempers. “We are not going to start militias,” Mayor Alain Outreman said. “You would have to be everywhere.”

Photo A gang of local youths watch as Firemen extinguish burning vehicles during clashes between riot police and French youths in the Paris suburb of Aulnay sur Bois, early November 3, 2005. (Victor Tonelli/Reuters) Fires and other incidents were reported in the northern city of Lille, in Toulouse, in the southwest, Rouen, in the west and elsewhere on the second night of unrest in areas beyond metropolitan Paris. An incendiary device was tossed at the wall of a synagogue in Pierrefitte, northwest of Paris, where electricity went out after a burning car damaged an electrical pole.

“This is dreadful, unfortunate. Who did this? [Muslims. -ed.] Against whom?” [You. -ed.] Naima Mouis, a hospital worker in Suresnes, asked while looking at the hulk of her burned-out car.

On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 people took part in a silent march in one of the worst-hit suburbs, Aulnay-sous-Bois, filing past burned-out cars to demand calm. One banner read: “No to violence.” Car torchings have become a daily fact in France’s tough suburbs, with about 100 each night.


The persistence of the violence prompted the American and Russian governments to advise citizens visiting Paris to avoid the suburbs, where authorities were struggling to gain control of the worst rioting in at least a decade.

An attack this week on a woman bus passenger highlighted the savage nature of some of the violence. The woman, in her 50s and on crutches, was doused with an inflammable liquid and set afire after passengers were forced to leave the bus, blocked by burning objects on the road, judicial officials said.

Late Friday in Meaux, east of Paris, [Muslim -ed.] youths prevented firefighters from evacuating a sick person from an apartment in a housing project, pelting them with stones and torching the awaiting ambulance, an Interior Ministry officer said. The officer, not authorized to speak publicly, asked not to be named.

“I’m not able to sleep at night because you never know when a fire might break out,” said Mammed Chukri, 36, a Kurdish immigrant from northern Iraq living near a burned carpet warehouse. “I have three children and I live in a five-story building. If a fire hit, what would I do?”

A national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon, said there appeared to be no coordination between gangs in the various riot-hit suburbs. He said, however, that neighborhood youths were communicating between themselves using mobile phone text messaging or e-mails to arrange meeting points and alert each other to police.

Immigrant Rioting Flares in France for Ninth Night (NYT)

France’s worst urban violence in a decade exploded for a ninth night on Friday as bands of youths roamed the immigrant-heavy, working-class suburbs of Paris, setting fire to dozens of cars and buildings while the government struggled over the violence and the underlying frustrations fueling it.

The unrest, which has also spread to other parts of France with large North African and Arab populations, prompted the American and Russian governments to warn citizens visiting Paris to avoid its poor, outlying neighborhoods. France reduced train service to Charles de Gaulle Airport after two trains became targets of rioters earlier in the week. A handicapped woman riding a bus in the Sevran suburb suffered burns over 20 percent of her body Thursday night after two youths doused the inside of the bus with a flammable liquid and set it on fire. Youths have also burned cars in Dijon, in the east, and in Marseille, in the south.

The violence has isolated the country’s tough-talking, anticrime interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, whom some people blame for having worsened the situation with his blunt statements about “cleaning out” the “thugs” from those neighborhoods.

France has been grappling for years with growing unrest among its second- and third-generation immigrants, mostly North African Arabs, who have faced decades of high unemployment and marginalization. Critics say Mr. Sarkozy’s confrontational approach has polarized the communities and the government. “It’s a game that has been started between the youth and Sarkozy,” said a French-Algerian man wearing Chanel sunglasses outside Aulnay’s mosque, in a converted warehouse. He would give his name only as Nabil. “Until he quits,” he said, “it’s not going to get better.”

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met Friday afternoon with more than a dozen youths from troubled neighborhoods at his palatial offices in central Paris, hoping to find a solution to the unrest. He has promised to put in place an “action plan” before the end of the month to improve conditions in the country’s poor neighborhoods.

France’s foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, warned Thursday that France risked losing the integration battle in immigrant neighborhoods to radicalization of religious-based movements (diplomatic code for Islamic extremism).

Many held as French riots spread (BBC)

Photo The deaths of two teenagers of African origin triggered the unrestFrench police have arrested more than 250 people following fresh riots in and around Paris and other parts of France. Nearly 900 cars were burnt on the ninth consecutive night of unrest in immigrant-dominated areas near Paris, despite a heavy police presence. Nurseries and a school were burnt overnight and unrest spread to Nice, Lille, Marseille and Toulouse.

Religious leaders hope to calm tensions with a march in one of the worst-hit Paris suburbs, Aulnay-sous-Bois. French CRS riot police were highly visible on its streets overnight, the BBC’s James Shaw reports. Muslim and Christian leaders are expected to join the march along with the families of the two youths whose deaths triggered the unrest.


During Friday night’s unrest rioters tended to avoid direct clashes with police, but arson attacks were widespread:

* Two nurseries, one in Yvelines and another in Bretigny-sur-Orgeand, were set on fire along with a school in Seine-et-Marne, the French news agency AFP reports

* A blaze in an underground car park in Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, left at least 36 vehicles destroyed

* An emergency services vehicle was attacked and burnt out in Meaux, Seine-et-Marne

* Several car torchings were reported in the cities of Dijon, Marseille and Rouen, as were violent attacks in Nice, Lille and Rennes.

Clearly, the French experiment with democracy is not working. While there are isolated incidents, like the anti-violence march described above, the government is unable to provide basic safety. The fact of the matter is that the insurgents are winning and fighting back is just futile.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Barry says:


    You’re talking out of the wrong orifice again.
    France has been a democracy for quite a while now. These riots are bad, but, by your standards, the US experiment failed no later than at the start of the Civil War. And has repeatedly failed since then, considering how many large-scale riots the US has experienced. And if the state-sponsored terrorism of the KKK is counted, as it should be, the US experiment with democracy was null and void from 1860 – 1950’s, for a large chunk of the country.

    And, again by your standards, how long will it take our experiment in Iraq to be successful?

  2. Bithead says:

    My comments Here, and Here.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    America and the rest of the world are still refining democracy, there’s nothing wrong with an ever evolving system. In Iraq we are making some mistakes but some of us are keeping the bigger picture in mind. The impatient ones are not.

    Maybe the Borg have it right. Assimilation into a collective may be the way to a peaceful domestic populace. Isolation of these recent immigrants has led to this civil uprising. Our identity politics can lead to the same.

    Assimilate, resistance is futile.

  4. Don says:

    I’m reminded of that perhaps apocryphal story of Henry Kissinger asking Chou En-Lai, prime minister of China in the early 1970s, “What do you think of the French Revolution?” Chou’s response: “Too soon to tell!”

  5. anjin-san says:

    After recent catastrophic failures of our own government (9-11, Katrina), I am not sure we should be so quick to take others to task, much less label them “failures”. We would do better to put our own house in order.

  6. Atm says:

    Oh, I think it is fair, as Europeans were doing the same after Katrina, despite their multitude of failures in dealing with the effects of nature. And let us not lay 9-11 at our government’s feet principally, considering that much of the 9-11 plot was planned and facilitated in Europe. Furthermore, let us not forget that hijacker wannabe Zacharias Massaoui (sic?) was French North African. Unlike Katrina, Europe and particularly France’s problems with Muslim immigrants represents a grave threat to the security of the United States. Their inability (or unwillingless) to deal with them appropriately and filter out and expel the violent ones was an extremely important contributory factor in making 9-11 possible. My view is it is time to end the visa waiver program allowing Europeans to visit the US without sufficient screening.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Lets face facts. In the days & weeks leading up to 9-11, the Bush admin was focused like a laser on tax cuts for billionaires. Now 9-11 is somehow France’s fault? Sorry, the national security of the US is the president’s job.

    Its a lot easier to trash someone else then to look in the mirror.

    Of couse this is the Bush way, never take responsibiliy.

  8. Bithead says:


    Are you often given to such fantasies?

  9. Atm says:

    Well should Clinton take responsibility for allowing Atta into the country?

  10. Atm says:

    Now 9-11 is somehow France’s fault?

    No, 9-11 is more Germany’s and to a lesser exteng Spain’s fault. Mr. “I want to learn how to fly a 747 but no land it” is a creation of the French social, political and cultural environment, the same environment that has resulted in these riots.

  11. anjin-san says:


    National security is the presidents’s job. a fantasy? Guess it is under the current admin.

  12. Bithead says:

    The ‘Tax Cut for the rich” mantra gives you away, Anji. When you start out in your first words with a lie, what else are we supposed to take from the post?

  13. FrenchGuy says:

    Sorry, but I can’t let this beeing said.
    I am French, and I live in one of those towns you’re talkin’ about…exept you don’t even have an idea of what’s going on around here.
    Considering those riots as an immigrant/muslim movement is a great mistake!
    Those riots (it’s right) are mostly leaded by third generation immigrants, but with absolutely no religious matters.
    This is a social movement!
    Those immigrants were BROUGHT to France to help reconstructing the country after WW2, and France used them as workers as long as they needed them, then just let them rot in thoses mass-poverty subburbs. So now they want to be considered with equal rights and equal employment (that’s obviously not the case).
    I’m not one of them, but I do understand why they are so pissed off, and even if I don’t like the way they are trying to be express themselves (burning stuff is not the right solution…they will only get more police control, that’s what they always get for trying to get heard)
    They are just out of patience, poor and seeking for those “liberte, egalite, fraternite” we promised them but never gave them.

  14. Pete says:

    Hi guys,
    That so called “french guy” could be part of the government, we are under-control in france I know muslims i live in marseilles…

    They have been throwing rocks at our minister Sarkozy, burning cars, churches,hospitals, shooting at cops and have killed 2 people so far(originally french).
    allah ouarbach has been heard here and there.

    They don’t want only a job, they want everything
    ie being a superstar, a soccer player, you name it.

    I wanted to buy some bullets for my hunting rifle
    just in case someone was to mess with my car or my home but guess what you can’t buy any ammo in france anylonger pretty similar to African law…

    The goverment doesn’t protect its people and you can’t even protect yourself.

    Positive discrimination is announced openly as its first goal by the french government .
    The poor rejected muslims are winning
    no matter diploma, skills or attitude if they don’t get hired they’ll blame it on islamophobia.
    (no one will talk to you after that suspiscion)

    one last thing, you probably know that education is free in france, but the french government even sponsors willing north africans students coming from abroad for they scholarship so they can become engeneers or doctors….to show that our third generation immigrants can make it.

    Can the govemnent lie all the time to all the people

  15. Sabrina says:


    I suppose you vote for the Front National…

    I live in France too. And I can tell riots are not religious. There are very much non-muslims in these riots.

    I know the projects. I know many people living in projects in Paris area and other towns. My grand-parents live in a project. I know how life is when you live there. Even if you’re white it’s hard to find a job because when the boss read your adress he say “we already found somebody”.