Skip to comments.France: On the streets, again
Posted on 11/30/2007 12:56:36 AM PST by Cincinna
AFTER nights of rioting in Villiers-le-Bel, a rough banlieue north of Paris, and clashes in Toulouse, President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to hold an emergency security meeting in the French capital on Wednesday November 28th. He was expected to step up further the security presence in the run-down suburb, as well as in those nearby, in an effort to stop the trouble spreading. Police reinforcements helped to bring about a calmer third night on Tuesday. Mr Sarkozy, who was interior minister during the three weeks of rioting and car-burning across French banlieues in 2005, is this time determined to prevent a repeat by clamping down on the violence early.
Freshly back from his trip to China, Mr Sarkozy set the tone for the hard-line position he intends to adopt towards the rioters. After visiting in hospital a local police chief badly wounded in the first night of violence, he vowed on Wednesday that anybody who had fired on policemen would end up in the criminal court: It is, he said, attempted murder. Unlike in 2005, when almost no firearms were used by either the rioters or the police, and the violence was primarily arson and rock-throwing, a number of hunting shotguns were used to fire at the police this time.
As in 2005, this week's rioting was triggered by the deaths of two youths in a clash with the police. This time, the two teenagers, riding a mini-motorbike without wearing crash helmets, were killed in a collision with a police car. How this happened is unclear, and an inquiry has been opened. By nightfall, rioters were on the rampage. Over two nights of violence, they torched scores of cars and rubbish bins, a police station, a primary school, a library, local shops, a McDonald's fast-food restaurant and municipal buildings. Some 130 policemen were wounded, several of them seriously.
Local (mainly Socialist) mayors had been warning for a while that tension remained high in the country's banlieues, two years on. It is not that these grim neighbourhoods have been neglected altogether. There has been a heavy injection of public cash, primarily into the renovation of the housing estates that ring the big cities. The centre-right Mr Sarkozy appointed a left-wing Muslim woman, Fadela Amara, to draw up a Marshall Plan for the banlieues, which is due in January. By including her, as well as other members of ethnic minorities, in his government, he also sent a message of inclusion to the heavily Muslim and ethnic population of the banlieues.
The problem, rather, is that two central issues remain unresolved: the failure of the French economy to create enough jobs, and the tense relationship between the police and local youths. The unemployment rate in the banlieues remains more than twice as high as the national average (which is 8.1%) and on some housing estates is 40%. Mr Sarkozy wants to loosen the labour market to encourage job creation, but negotiations over how to do this are still in progress. It will anyway take time for new policies to take effect.
As for policing, France is hamstrung by a sterile debate that pits the left against the right over police methods. The left insists that things have deteriorated ever since neighbourhood policing was dismantled under the previous centre-right government, and accuses the right of inflaming tension with heavy-handed techniques. In reply, Mr Sarkozy insists that those methods were too lax, treated policemen like social workers not law-enforcement officers, and prefers a strong hand to clamp down on criminality.
This wave of violence comes at a testing time for Mr Sarkozy's six-month-old presidency. He has just endured a nine-day public-transport strike, which brought chaos to the capital's roads and enraged commuters. Students have been blockading university campuses for weeks in protest at higher-education reform. Magistrates are holding a one-day strike on Thursday against judicial reform. It is one thing to deal with this form of organised discontent on the streets. The disorganised criminal violence that broke out this week is altogether more unpredictable.
On the French Evening News tonight, Sarko gave an hour long interview, no notes, with Arlette Chabot and Patrick Poivre d’Arvor.
He dealt with the riots, and the 82 hospitalized policemen. He again stated he has zero tolerance for violence against police and property, and that the perps will be found, one by one, and brought to trial for attempted murder.
If you live in the Tri-State area, you can watch the French News every night, with subtitles, at 7 pm EST on Channel 25 WNYCTV.
If you would like to be on this French Politics and Culture Ping List, FReepmail me.
I’m generally anti-riot and pro-Sarkozy, but let’s be honest. The burning of French cars could be taken as a legitimate form of automotive criticism.... [grin]
This just in from AFP:
SARKOZY CONDEMNS RIOTERS ‘YOBOCRACY’
President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed on Thursday to track down the “yobs and traffickers” he accused of fomenting unrest in the high-immigration suburbs of Paris.
In a prime-time television interview, Sarkozy promised his government would take a tough line towards those behind a flare-up of violence that left more than 120 police wounded, some by gunfire.
“These people are yobs, ready to do anything. We will find them one by one,” said Sarkozy, who seized hold of the suburb crisis upon his return from a state visit to China.
Two nights of arson attacks and clashes around Villiers le Bel, north of the capital, were triggered by the death of two teenage boys in a motorbike collision with a police car on Sunday.
“We came within inches of a catastrophe,” warned Sarkozy, who earlier visited several officers wounded by hunting rifle buckshot and bullets, including one who lost an eye.
Hundreds of riot police were on duty for a fourth night in Villiers and nearby towns, where a mass security presence has kept an uneasy calm for the past two nights.
Sarkozy charged earlier that the violence — France’s worst unrest since nationwide riots in November 2005 — was caused by a hard core of delinquents rather than social deprivation.
“What happened in Villiers le Bel has nothing to do with a social crisis and everything to do with yobocracy,” he told a meeting of police officers.
“Other unemployed people do not open fire on the police,” he reaffirmed. “This has nothing to do with an accident. This has nothing to do with social problems. I will not respond to this with more money.”
“When you try to explain the inexplicable, you end up finding excuses for the inexcusable.”
His words were echoed by Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, herself a social activist from the “banlieues”, who told Le Parisien newspaper that “what happened is not a social crisis. This is anarchic urban violence carried out by a minority, who tarnish the majority.”
Sarkozy said an action plan for the poor suburbs to be announced in January would focus on encouraging social mobility “for those who want to get out”, while promising tough treatment for delinquents.
Government policy would be “more generous to those who want training and a job, a family and a home, and more severe to those whose only idea is to poison the lives of others,” he said.
The initial findings of an investigation into Sunday’s accident confirmed the police version according to which the police vehicle was driving at normal speed when it was crashed into by the two teenagers, neither of whom was wearing a helmet, Le Figaro newspaper reported.
Some local people appear to believe that the crash was deliberately caused by the police, who they say left the scene without treating the victims.
The suburb violence came hard on the heels of a paralysing nine-day transport strike against Sarkozy’s pension reform plans, the most serious challenge to his presidency since his election in May.
A poll taken at the height of the strike showed Sarkozy’s confidence ratings tumbling below 50 percent for the first time, with respondents complaining of stagnating wages and rising prices and stubbornly high unemployment, at 8.1 percent.
Sarkozy pledged to “put some fuel” back into the economy, but with sluggish growth and French public finances stretched to capacity, he warned the solution could not come from state “hand-outs”.
“The French people are not waiting for me to hand out gifts like Father Christmas when they know there is no money in the coffers,” he said.
Sarkozy insisted the only way to boost spending power was to allow people to “work more to earn more” — his key campaign slogan — promising to let firms circumvent the 35-work week under agreement with workers and unions.
Forty-nine percent of respondents told the TNS-Sofres poll they doubted Sarkozy’s ability to wrench France out of the economic doldrums.
“Forty-nine percent of respondents told the TNS-Sofres poll they doubted Sarkozys ability to wrench France out of the economic doldrums.”
Getting rid of socialism might help.
This is a good analysis from
French Politics by Art Goldhammer
An interesting Blog,often way too Leftist, but nevertheless informed and intelligent commentary on France.
Voyoucratie (translation: rule by thugs or hoodlums)
Sarko’s gift to lexicographers: la voyoucratie, which is what he sees at work in Villiers-le-Bel.
«Je réfute toute forme d’angélisme qui vise à trouver en chaque délinquant une victime de la société, en chaque émeute un problème social» he also said.
Translation: “I reject a form of naivete that views every criminal as a victim of society and every riot as a social problem.”
Yet if the president is right, and Villiers-le-Bel really is ruled by une voyoucratie, operating with impunity just a few kilometers from the center of Paris, arming itself with shotguns loaded with buckshot, and going to ground only when faced with the superior firepower of a battalion of CRS and a dozen helicopters, then one might conclude that this in itself is un problème social. I’m not sure what else to call it.
The saddest post-riot scene was the conversation on France2 news last night between M. Pétillon, the owner of an auto dealership that was burned to the ground, and a young man from a neighboring town who had come to Villiers to assess the damage. “Don’t they realize that the people who work here live in the zone?” M. Pétillon asked. “Where will they work now?” The young man said he was just as “disgusted” by the waste as the businessman who had invested 2 million euros 15 years ago to develop what had been a vacant lot and who employed 30 people, all devastated by the news that he will not reopen the business.
Oui, oui! :p
Has he ever mentioned the forced deportation of these ‘enraged youths’? I know Sweden has recently come to terms with the stupidity of their immigration policy, and the Dutch are busy clamping down on what’s left of their culture.
Almost all of the “yoots” are French, born in France.
There is no place to deport them to.
Hauling them into Court, charging them with attempted murder, convicting them and hauling them off to prison makes a lot of sense to me.
The “perps” don’t care. Anyone with employment among them become the enemy, in league with the establishment, to the still unemployed. They will destroy any businesses that dare try to raise the neighborhoods from their blissful misery, because in the misery there is opportunity for bad people to rule the masses of ignorant fools who live there.
“The unemployment rate in the banlieues remains more than twice as high as the national average (which is 8.1%) and on some housing estates is 40%.”
That’s not so bad, all things considered. The Somali Mohammedans around here, moved in over the past 6 years thanks to the Roman Catholic diocese, have an unemployment rate of about 80%; just about the most worthless, disgusting, dog vomit creatures since the invention of Mohammedan Albanians.
It’s like a combination of Crysostom and Maccabee.
They have relatives in Arab/ Muslim countries, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. Australia was a good idea, for the Brits many centuries ago. There are always solutions to problems when they come up.
Read this: Muslims Rule Sweden
Mr Sarkozy, who was interior minister during the three weeks of rioting and car-burning across French banlieues in 2005, is this time determined to prevent a repeat by clamping down on the violence early. Freshly back from his trip to China, Mr Sarkozy set the tone for the hard-line position he intends to adopt towards the rioters. After visiting in hospital a local police chief badly wounded in the first night of violence, he vowed on Wednesday that anybody who had fired on policemen would end up in the criminal court: "It is," he said, "attempted murder". Unlike in 2005, when almost no firearms were used by either the rioters or the police, and the violence was primarily arson and rock-throwing, a number of hunting shotguns were used to fire at the police this time.Just a coincidence that this new outbreak corresponds to the Annapolis conference. Thanks Cincinna.
The bummer is that I Sarzosky will succeed in changing labor laws and social policies and to begin restoring the economy but this will take many years to unwind (government hand outs and 35 hr. work weeks). What seemed to work good here after the Clinton era of hand-outs to welfare Moms was that Bush set a two year limit to welfare & free housing and offered subsidized job training programs during the two years. The two friends of my wife that were both welfare rats just pooping out more kids to keep getting freebies both became nurses and now make a nice living and have cleaned up there acts. They are both much happier now and show pride for there accomplishments as they should.
(meant to add ‘believe’ after ‘I....’
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