French Muslim Riots Spreading, Growing More Violent

The French Muslim riots, now in their eighth day, continue to spread and grow more violent.

Rioting Spreads in Paris Suburbs as Angry Youths Burn More Cars (NYT)

Photo A group of youths danced around a car they had set on fire in a Paris working-class district Wednesday night, the seventh night of clashes.Angry youths clashed with police and firefighters outside Paris late Wednesday in the worst of seven straight nights of violence set off by the accidental death of two teenagers. By late Thursday, more cars were burning in at least one of the city’s northern suburbs. Gunshots were fired at police officers and firefighters in three separate incidents Wednesday night, said Prefect Jean-François Cordet, the government’s top official in Seine-St.-Denis, a department north of Paris that includes a belt of working-class neighborhoods with a large immigrant population from North Africa and the sub-Saharan region.


Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who canceled a trip to Canada this week because of the violence, urged citizens and the police to restore order. The continuing violence has isolated the country’s tough-talking anticrime interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, whom many people believe exacerbated the situation with his vow to “clean out” the troubled neighborhoods. Mr. Sarkozy’s tough stance also has worsened a split in the governing Union for a Popular Majority between his supporters and Mr. Villepin’s. Both men are vying to become the party’s presidential candidate in 2007. Mr. Villepin has emerged as a voice of moderation to balance Mr. Sarkozy’s bluntness.


The continuing unrest appears to be fueled less by perceived police brutality than by the frustration of young men who have no work and see little hope for the future.

Hundreds of cars set alight in 8th night of Paris riots (AFX)

Some 400 cars were set on fire in the outskirts of Paris last night, as serious riots in the city’s outskirts continued for an eighth consecutive night, the police said. Police also reported that 27 buses were set on fire at a depot, and that fires were started at a primary school in the district of Stains and at a warehouse in Aulnay-Sous-Bois.

The police also said that for the first time since the riots broke out over a week ago, similar disturbances, although on a smaller scale, took place in other French towns, with several cars being set on fire in Dijon and in the Seine-Maritime and Bouche-du-Rhone regions. However, the police also said that there were fewer clashes between police and rioters than on Wednesday night.

The riots were triggered last week when two teenagers were electrocuted after hiding in an electrical substation to escape a police identity check in the Parisian suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

New riots grip Paris (SA)

Fresh rioting broke out on the outskirts of Paris overnight into Friday as gangs of youths challenged authorities’ vows to crack down on urban violence that has plagued the French capital for over a week. Police said more than 160 cars were torched in the Paris region and 33 in the provinces, but the night seemed calmer than Thursday when 315 vehicles were burnt in the Ile-de-France region around the capital. Buses, fire engines and police were again stoned in the Paris suburbs, with five policemen reported slightly injured by projectiles, but there were fewer direct confrontations between police and “troublemakers”, according to a police spokesperson.


The rioting was a direct challenge to the authority of the French government and to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in particular. Villepin on Thursday vowed before parliament that authorities “will not give in” to the violence and would make restoring order their “absolute top priority”. “I will not allow organised gangs to make the law in the suburbs,” he declared.

The clashes have gained territory virtually every night since they began, exposing what sociologists and commentators said was a blatant failure of successive governments to address the problems of low-income, high-immigration suburbs dominated by grim public housing estates, some of them little more than ghettos where crime and gangs run rampant.

The riots were sparked last week by the accidental electrocution of two teenagers who had hidden in an electrical sub-station to escape a police identity check in the suburb at the epicentre of the troubles, Clichy-sous-Bois. Many of France’s estimated five million Muslims live in those suburbs. Thursday night was the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a night traditionally marked by feasts and family get-togethers.

The fact that these “youths” and “frustrated young men” just happen to be Muslim is hardly irrelevant to this story, yet it is ignored in most of these stories and relegated to the last paragraphs of others. It would be the equivalent of covering the 1960s civil rights marches in the United States without mentioning that the people fighting for their rights were black.

The story here isn’t about troubled teens. Nor is it about the inherent violence of Islam. But an intelligent discussion of the tensions created by large groups of minorities living together in ghettos surrounded by relative affluence can not be held without acknowledgement of the cultural identity of those in those ghettos.

Update (0956): Michelle Malkin has rounded up some excellent resources on this one. Among them is a link to a piece by Robert Spencer, who observes that,

[A]ll these problems are exacerbated by the non-assimilation policy that both the French government and the Muslim population have for so long pursued: the rioters are part of a population that has never considered itself French. Nor do French officials seem able or willing to face that this is the core of their problem today. It is likely that the riots will result only in intensification of the problems that caused them: if French officials offer an accommodation to Muslims, it will probably result only in further intensification of the Islamic identity, often in its most radical manifestations, among French Muslims. The French response to the riots is likely to unfold along the lines of a decision by officials in Holland last May: they declined to ban a book called De weg van de Moslim (The Way of the Muslim), even though it calls for homosexuals to be thrown head first off tall buildings. The Amsterdam city council did not want to contravene “the freedom to express opinions.â€

Spencer also observes,

Ignorance of the jihad ideology among European officials has allowed that ideology to spread in those enclaves, unchecked until relatively recently.

Consequently, among a generation of Muslims born in Europe, significant numbers have nothing but contempt and disdain for their native lands, and allegiance only to the Muslim umma and the lands of their parents̢۪ birth. Those who continue to arrive in Europe from Muslim countries are encouraged by the isolation, self-imposed and other-abetted, of the Islamic communities in Europe to hold to the same attitudes.

Much more on that point at the link.

Update (1101): Glenn Reynolds has quite a few links as well, including a NY Sun editorial entitled, “Intifada in France.” Some interesting excerpts:

Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: “the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs.” President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the “conservative society” that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it “is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world.”


It turns out that France’s Muslim community lives in areas rampant with crime, poverty, and unemployment, much the fault of France’s prized welfare system. There are those of us who spent part of the 1980s in Europe, supporting the idea, among others from the Reagan era, that immigration was a virtue for a country and that the racial or religious background of the immigrants did not matter. We maintain that view. But immigration into a country with a dirigiste economy is a recipe for trouble, which is why supporters of immigration into France have long warned of the need for liberalization.

Part of France’s problem is that it has defaulted on those measures. The lack of labor market flexibility and other socialist policies have created unemployment at nearly 10%, most of which falls among immigrants. And part stems from the fact that France’s estimated 5 million Muslims, out of a population of 60 million, are led by mostly foreign radical imams. Only belatedly has the French state started taking action, pressing for clerics to be taught in France. All this is compounded by the image France projects of itself to its Muslims, which one can surmise is the reason why Muslims see rioting as the solution to any grievance.

It’s a barely kept secret that Mr. Chirac led the opposition to the Iraq war out of fear of how his Muslim population would react. This fear is a big part of why France portrays itself as America’s counterweight and why it criticizes Israel at every turn and coddled the terrorist Yasser Arafat right up to his death. This doesn’t elicit thanks from Muslim radicals in France. It turns out to project an image of weakness. Unsurprisingly when faced with some unhappiness they believe they can pressure the French state into submission.

Mark Steyn, meanwhile, thinks this marks “The start of a long Eurabian civil war.” (See Hugh Hewitt and Radio Blogget for more.)

Now, this is almost certainly an overreach in reaction to this story. I think we’re still well short of a Muslim insurrection here. But it’s undeniable that France has some serious systemic problems with its Muslim immigrants and its social welfare system. (So does the United States, although to a much lesser degree.)

It is rather amazing, though, how little coverage this story is getting. Not only are the riots in one of the world’s most important cities being treated as a minor story but the Muslim angle is almost totally ignored by NYT, WaPo, and AP.

Dr. Demarche has more.

Update (1120): Then again . . . .

MSM blackout on the intifada in Denmark (American Thinker)

It’s not just Paris. Successive nights of riots have rocked parts of Århus, the second largest city in Denmark. Little to nothing has appeared in the English language press about the second front in the Eurabian intifada. Århus is home to an excellent Danish university, and is a place where I have spent some time. It is usually spelled “Aarhus†in English.

Just 20 minutes from Paris, it’s war (The Australian)

“THIS is a war.” It is late in the evening marking the end of Ramadan when 13-year-old Souhail, a French Muslim of Moroccan origin, makes his bellicose declaration. On a residential street crowded with onlookers, we are trying to shield ourselves from the blaze and foul smell of another car set alight in the outer Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

Nearby BeurgerKing Muslim is doing a brisk trade in Halal fast food and mothers wearing headscarves are pushing young children around in strollers. But tonight the poor, North African immigrant neighbourhood is also crawling with hundreds of police officers brandishing guns, batons and teargas canisters and there are fire trucks and sirens blaring.

On the lighter side:

Riots Show That Europe Can Learn From America

Has anyone in the United States noticed that the Paris suburbs have been racked by race riots for a week? That youths in these ghettos are opening fire on police? You’d never know it from American media coverage. There’s very little of it on TV, despite the dramatic footage of burning cars. On CNN Headline News, the French riots were given 20 seconds, wedged between an item about Scooter Libby and one about how a musicians’ strike at Radio City wouldn’t affect the Rockettes.

What’s more astounding is that Americans, despite their frequent delight in France-bashing, have not used the mayhem to turn a bright spotlight onto the failings of French society. Here we have nine towns in France consumed in what one French union leader called a “civil war,” and few American commentators are wagging their fingers over what’s wrong with France.

Compare that with 13 years ago, when the world’s cameras trained on the violence in Los Angeles. The L.A. riots became the No. 1 story across the globe. The instant analysis from Europe was that the chickens of racial injustice had come home to roost. And there was much self-satisfied clucking about America being a messed-up place and Europe having gotten things right. French President Francois Mitterrand used the L.A. riots to defend France’s generous welfare programs. The chaos in America, he said, showed “that the social needs of any country must not be neglected.”

Casting stones and all that.

Americans may have something to teach their European friends. The United States absorbs immigrants by the millions. The immigrants don’t riot. They work, and they assimilate. It could be that Americans’ devotion to working — often ridiculed by leisure-loving Europeans — translates into greater respect for people who work. Ours is a more open society.

Largely true. Still, it’s not as if the U.S. assimilates immigrants and minorities in general without incident. And it’s also the case that we’ve got large cells of anti-American Islamists here. So, while Europe can learn from us, we might want to look at their problems and start plotting a course to prevent them here, as they are surely coming.

Update (1309): See also, Disabled Woman Set On Fire By French Muslims

FILED UNDER: Africa, Blogosphere, Guns and Gun Control, LGBTQ Issues, Policing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LJD says:

    Must be Bush’s fault.

  2. Herb says:

    The Frenchys are getting “just what they deserve”

  3. Elmo says:

    Some solid work this a.m. Mr. Joyner, joining many disaparate takes together into one metered real. And regards your Froma Harrop excerpt …. the non French bashing, goes hand in hand with the non crowing about their facing realities. Realities we had been crowing about, for a while. Welcome to the new millenium France. Welcome. As far as Islamists here in America? I don’t know that the model will be similar. I fear it may be more insidious.

  4. David says:

    Living in France in ’80-’82, we were shocked at the racism and hatred directed at the “Algerians”, after hearing for years from our MSM how much more enlightened the Euros were than we simple Yanks. What a load of B.S.

    We foresaw this mess 20 years ago. No surprise now.

  5. bains says:

    Publications such as the Beeb cannot mention the ethnic (nor religious) makeup of the protestors for it would be tacit admission that much of what they’ve said in opposition to recent US military actions is now demonstratively wrong.

    We were scolded again and again that if we just tried to understand, tried to accomidate, tried to get along, things would be fine; and that because of our beligerance, the arab world hated us and this was proved by the Madrid and London bombings.

    To state that Muslims are rioting against France and Denmark strongly suggests that there are other motivational angsts in play. Tis a shame that 4 years have been wasted upon anti-american propaganda when they could have been informing their readers of the gathering threat.

  6. The United States of America remaings committed to a two-state solution for France, and calls for the French leaders to make confidence-building measures, beginning with the release of all Moslem prisoners. There can be no peace in France, without the establishment of a contiguous Francistanian state, with Paris as its capital, the opening of the borders to free movement of the Moslem population in and out of France, the halting of all checkpoints, roadbocks and traffic stops by the Frankish entity in the occupied territories, and the right of return of all Arabs who have at one time lived in France. This cycle of violence has got to end, with the occupying power abandoning its policy of expanding French settlements and returning to the Road Map.

  7. george karalis says:

    Many extreme Leftists in the United states pose just as much of a danger to the democratic traditions of our nation as do the Muslims. Why doesn’t the MSM lump them together and talk about them as One Movement ? Why are Americans born Leftists with anti-USA attitudes any different than British born Muslims who bombed the london train stations ? I do not view anti-USA American born Leftists as “Americans”, just Traitors shielded under the mantel of Political Correctness. I do not believe the Founding fathers intended these traitors enjoy the first Amendment license to spew out Trash (skatology).

  8. gerard demaison says:

    Re: Current islamic rioting in France.Everything happening now has been predicted time and time again. The doors to islamic immigration into France have been wide open for decades. This has long been supported by the French big business cartels which need new consummers for their chain stores, car makers, food outlets etc.. French big business wants sales growth at any social cost. Period. African immigration has also been steadily supported by the Socialists ( e.g. the late Francois Mitterand ) and Communists since they get their votes from the disadvantaged layers of society. It is a hopeless situation !

  9. Sabrina says:


    You better stop watching Fox News because they do a bad job (or they are liars, I don’t know).

    I’m french, so I know what happens here. All the youth in riots are not muslims. There are people of french origins, african origins, west indies origins, north africa origins, asian origins, portugal origins, …

    Riots have nothing to deal with religion. It’s just people who are fed up with the way they are treated. They suffer from discrimination when they want to get a job, they suffer from discrimination with the police. Even if they are born in France and have the French nationality they are not considered as French.

    They want things to change. They are not terrorist who burn France.