Rioting in Paris after Muslim Youths Killed

Rioting has been ongoing in the Paris suburbs for hours after the deaths of two teenagers in what appears to be an accidental crash with a police vehicle.


French Muslim Riot Photo After the accident, looting broke out and the police station in Villiers-le-Bel was set on fire, as was a local petrol station, with a number of cars destroyed.

Details are a bit sketchy in the early reports.

“Riot grips Paris suburb after youths killed in police crash,” AFP

French police were on alert Monday for a new flare-up of violence in the Paris suburbs, after the death of two teenagers in a crash with a police car sparked six hours of rioting by angry youths.

Gangs torched cars and looted shops and buildings in the north Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, injuring 25 police officers, following the death of the youths aged 15 and 16, whose cross-country motorbike collided with a police car at around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Sunday. Some 100 angry youths quickly thronged the crash site, in a flashpoint high-rise housing estate, demanding the “truth” about the accident, as rioting spread across the town.

In 2005, the accidental death of two youths allegedly fleeing police in another north Paris suburb sparked three weeks of riots in suburban estates across France, the country’s worst social unrest in decades.

Omar Sehhouli, the brother of one of Sunday’s victims, accused police of ramming the motorbike and of failing to assist the injured teens. “This is a failure to assist a person in danger… it is 100-percent a (police) blunder. They know it, and that’s why they did not stay at the scene,” he told France Info radio. “I know they will say they left because they were afraid of clashes or of being assaulted… but up until now we have had no apology from the police chief.”

Police said the bike smashed into the side of their car during a routine patrol of the neighbourhood. Neither youth was wearing a helmet, according to witnesses. An internal police investigation has been opened.

Officials reported at least seven arrests in Villiers-le-Bel as rioters torched two garages, a petrol pump and two shops, pillaged the railway station in neighbouring Arnouville and set fire to more than 20 cars. Twenty-five police were injured in the violence, two seriously, as well as one firefighter, officials said Monday. A police station Villiers-le-Bel was set on fire and another in Arnouville was wrecked. Police said there were reports of “small groups attacking shops, passers-by and car drivers” to rob them. One suspect was arrested carrying jewelry from a looted store, they said.

Sehhouli told AFP the rioting “was not violence but an expression of rage,” saying he wanted the police officers “responsible” for the accident to be brought to justice.

“Boys’ moped deaths ignite riot in Paris suburb,” London Telegraph.

French police were on alert Monday for a new flare-up of violence in the Paris suburbs, after the death of two teenagers in a crash with a police car sparked six hours of rioting by angry youths.

Gangs torched cars and looted shops and buildings in the north Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, injuring 25 police officers, following the death of the youths aged 15 and 16, whose cross-country motorbike collided with a police car at around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Sunday. Some 100 angry youths quickly thronged the crash site, in a flashpoint high-rise housing estate, demanding the “truth” about the accident, as rioting spread across the town.

In 2005, the accidental death of two youths allegedly fleeing police in another north Paris suburb sparked three weeks of riots in suburban estates across France, the country’s worst social unrest in decades.

Interestingly, those without background knowledge of the 2005 riots would have no idea from reading these stories that the “youths” killed, those perpetrating the riots, and the suburbs in question were predominantly Muslim and that ethnic unrest was the tinder sparked by the incidents. Indeed, there’s no clue in either story other than the name of the brother, Omar Sehhouli, who is quoted in both pieces and this, in the 17th paragraph of the AFP report:

Police and politicians warn many French suburbs remain a “tinderbox” two years after riots which exposed France’s failure to fully integrate the French-born descendants of African and Arab immigrants.

Rather important information, no? One can’t imagine rioting and the throwing of Molotov cocktails at police in most Western suburbs as a result of an accident. Surely, some explanation is warranted.

Photo credit: BBC

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    James, since your sources were AFP and the BBC, they probably were assuming their audience were knowledgeable about world news. Now, for the American audience, they should clarify and add in what you suggested since we’re so cocooned from foreign news, and whatnot with the latest Natalie Holloway headlines.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Americans haven’t been paying much attention to the unrest in the Paris suburbs since late 2005. If they had they’d’ve noticed that there’s been a level of unrest percolating since then.

    This isn’t a flare-up ex nihilo. It’s an escalation of what’s been happening all along.

    BTW, I don’t find the evidence that the French youth who are rioting are doing so because they’re Muslims particularly compelling as might be concluded intentionally or unintentionally from James’s headline. Why not because they’re African or because they’re not of French stock or because they’re unemployed or isolated or any number of other reasons?

  3. Abdul says:

    Ignoring the fact that this is standard behavior for Muslim youth isn’t going to help a clear case of immigration run amok in France. Clearly, no other religious group in France consistently behaves this way and finds any and every thing that happens to be an “injustice” and a personal affront.

    When’s the last time you and your friends rioted over an accident? When’s the last time you’ve seen any rioting or terrorist event in France (or almost anywhere else on the planet) that did not involve Muslims?

    I happen to be Muslim, and I’m damned tired of my fellow Muslims behaving this way and giving Islam a bad name. These people do have a problem, and the problem is them. They need to get off their kick of being a victim, stay away from imams that preach an extremist concoction of Islam that encourages this behavior, get an education and a job, spend their time being productive and contributing to society – whichever society they live in – and assimilate like every other ethnic and religious group has done – except them.

  4. DC Loser says:

    Le Figaro (Center-Right paper) has this tidbit:

    L’enquête devra faire la lumière sur les causes et les circonstances de l’accident. L’Inspection générale de la police nationale (IGPN) s’est vu confiée une enquête par la procureure de la république de Pontoise pour des «faits d’homicide involontaire et de non assistance à personnes en danger». Selon des témoins, en effet, les policiers impliqués dans l’accident auraient rapidement quitté les lieux, sans porter secours aux deux jeunes.

    Translation: The National Police Inspector General will have an inquiry with the State Prosecutor for “acts of involuntary homicide and non-assistance to persons in danger.” According to eyewitnesses, the police implicated in the accident quickly left the scene without giving aid to the two young (victims).

  5. Daria says:

    “demanding the “truth” about the accident”? The only truth there is for them is whatever happend the “Infidels” are to blame and to burn, to rape and to pillage.

  6. Fred says:
  7. If cops ran over two citizens and fled the scene, I think that could cause a riot anywhere. If the victims were from the poor, downtrodden classes then even more so. Suppose an LAPD squad car ran down a couple of youths in Compton and fled the scene. No riot? I doubt it.

  8. DC Loser says:

    I’d like to know what Fred found that confirmed his suspicion? I’ve been reading the French reporting on Le Monde and Le Figaro and none of their articles mention religion or race of the rioters. Yes, the two teens killed had Muslim names, but that’s not surprising as a large percentage of the Cites in the Banlieues are Muslim. But there are also large percentage African immigrants in those communities, many of them Christian. I would bet that they were also amongst the rioters. The issue underlying the anger isn’t religious, but of class, skin color, and the lack of opportunity (the unemployment rate for youths in those communities are more than 50%). As one of the commenters on the LeMonde site stated:

    A tous ceux qui parlent ici (dans ces réactions) d’immigration (dans l’article rien n’est dit concernant la nationalité, la couleur de peau, ni des casseurs ni des adolescents), je tiens à dire que l’on voit là vos vrais sentiments et votre vrai fond. Soit vous serez ceux qui nous mèneront vers le chaos, soit vous disparaitrez. Mais sachez que de toute façon votre attitude vous desservira. Vous êtes les héritiers du vingtième siècle, ce siècle de malheur. Allez vivre sur Mars !

    Basically, he was saying the articles don’t mention anything about nationality nor skin color of any of those involved.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree completely with DC Loser in this. The French cops that fled the scene of the accident (whatever its cause) didn’t know the religion of the youths injured in the accident nor did they know whether they were religious or whether they were being taught by radical imams. But they knew they weren’t of French stock (they could see that much with their own eyes) and they knew what part of town they were in.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW whatever the problems that caused this it was not an immigration problem. These kids’ grandparents were probably the immigrants. The kids were probably born in France.

  11. Scott_T says:

    I hate to point this out, the French Police probably have good reason to flee the scene.

    IIRC (and no links provided) the French PD has been beat up repeatedly in these riots, mainly because of their RoE (ie stones thrown at them and they can’t fire back, even rubber bullets).

    IIRC one of the last riots was because the French PD chased 2+ youths/thiefs into a electrical transformer area and they both got electrocuted and killed of course, riots insued, even though the French PD was following the law and try to arrest criminals.

    Even if the French PD did nothing in this accident(ie the motorcycle crashed into them and killed the riders), they (the PD) is at fault in this neighborhood presumably. So they left fearing for their own safety probably. Is anyone going to fault them for that?

  12. dutchmarbel says:

    When’s the last time you and your friends rioted over an accident? When’s the last time you’ve seen any rioting or terrorist event in France (or almost anywhere else on the planet) that did not involve Muslims?

    Eh…. today in the Netherlands?

    I see no proof of the Paris youth being muslim either James, so why do you state it as a fact?

  13. William Smith says:

    What alot of the western neo-con media did not mention, but was observed by many others (and pretty much all observers) was that the bulk of the rioters were BLACKS. In fact, very few arabs/north africans were involved in the riots of 2005, despite them being by far the largest minority group in the country. And while most black africans in France are of muslim heritage, a high number are also Christian and Animist (those from Rwanda, or Zaire). The neo-cons tried their best to give the impression that “Tariq” from Moroccow was the average rioter, when in fact it was “Mobuto” from Zaire, or possibly “Tariq” but from Cameroon.

    P.S. In this case – the victims are of black muslim ancestry.

    P.P.S. The VAST majority of ‘muslims’ in France are atheist/agnostic. Like blacks/mexicans in the US, or the Aborigines in Australia, or Maori in NZ, they are among the troublesome underclass though. Little to do with religion I’m afraid.

  14. William Smith says:

    P.S. Those riots in Amsterdam today, where a car was toppled and police were attacked – white ethnic dutch kids of christian background. Happens alot more than you think (have you forgotten the Danish riots of a few years ago or the ethnic Italian riots of kids destroying police stations in Rome from a couple of weeks ago???). Plenty of riots over the years over soccer too.

  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    P.S. Those riots in Amsterdam today, where a car was toppled and police were attacked – white ethnic dutch kids of Christian background. Happens alot more than you think (have you forgotten the Danish riots of a few years ago or the ethnic Italian riots of kids destroying police stations in Rome from a couple of weeks ago???). Plenty of riots over the years over soccer too.

    I think it has more to do with them being liberals.

  16. Tom B. says:

    “Suppose an LAPD squad car ran down a couple of youths in Compton and fled the scene. No riot? I doubt it.”

    Since Compton is a separate city policed by the County Sheriff’s Dept., an LAPD car running down people in Compton might just cause a riot…..