French Muslim Riots Spreading, Growing More Violent
The French Muslim riots, now in their eighth day, continue to spread and grow more violent.
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-FranÃƒ§ois 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.
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.
[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 Ã¢€œthe freedom to express opinions.Ã¢€
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 parentsÃ¢€™ 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.
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.
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)
ItÃ¢€™s not just Paris. Successive nights of riots have rocked parts of Ãƒ…rhus, the second largest city in Denmark. Little to nothing has appeared in the English language press about the second front in the Eurabian intifada. Ãƒ…rhus is home to an excellent Danish university, and is a place where I have spent some time. It is usually spelled Ã¢€œAarhusÃ¢€ 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:
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