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|SUBJECT ||Re: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Paris and Iraq
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Subject: Re: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Paris and Iraq
From: Ruben Safir
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Date: Thu, 03 Nov 2005 01:49:13 -0500
Chirac Appeals for Calm as Violent Protests Shake Paris's Suburbs
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By CRAIG S. SMITH
Published: November 3, 2005
PARIS, Nov. 2 - President Jacques Chirac appealed for calm on Wednesday
after six nights of violence in this city's immigrant-heavy northern
suburbs threatened to spiral into a political crisis.
The violence, primarily the burning of cars, began as a protest over the
deaths last Thursday of two North African youths who were electrocuted
when they jumped over a fence surrounding a high-voltage electrical
transformer. Some relatives and witnesses said the youths were running
from the police, though the official account said the police were not
But as the car-burning spread from Clichy-sous-Bois, the suburb where
the youths died, to neighboring suburbs on Wednesday, the government
expressed concern that the incident could ignite broader unrest among
frustrated first- and second-generation North African immigrants, who
have borne the brunt of France's economic weakness.
"Emotions must quiet down," Mr. Chirac told government ministers on
Wednesday, a government spokesman reported.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has seized control of the
government's response from his rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy,
in what appears to be an effort to assuage anger in the country's North
African population over Mr. Sarkozy's blunt authoritative style. Mr.
Sarkozy, who had raised temperatures with tough remarks this week, did
not speak Wednesday at the government's weekly question-and-answer
session before the legislature.
Burning cars as a form of protest is not unusual in the largely
immigrant, working-class neighborhoods. Unemployment rates there are 30
percent or more, while the national rate is 10 percent. More than 20,000
cars have been set ablaze in France so far this year, according to a
government report cited by the newspaper Le Figaro.
The periodic violence highlights France's failure to integrate
immigrants into the country's broader society, a problem that has grown
in urgency as the unemployment rate climbs. Most of the country's
immigrants are housed in government-subsidized apartments on the
outskirts of industrial cities. They benefit from generous welfare
programs, but the government's failure to provide jobs has created a
sense of disenfranchisement among the young. A highly observant form of
Islam has grown popular among the mostly Muslim population.
But the spread of violence over six nights has particularly alarmed the
government, which is already preoccupied by a contest between Mr.
Villepin and Mr. Sarkozy to become the governing center-right party's
presidential candidate in 2007.
Mr. Sarkozy has made zero tolerance of crime part of his tough
"If it continues, people will start to look for who to blame," said
Dominique Reynié, a professor of French political life at the National
Foundation of Political Sciences, referring to the violence.
According to an account by Mr. Sarkozy, the incident last week began
when a group of youths in Clichy-sous-Bois were returning home after
playing soccer and the police received a report that someone had broken
into a nearby construction site. The police arrived, gave chase and took
six youths into custody.
Mr. Sarkozy said police logs showed that the police and their detainees
arrived at the local police station at 6 p.m., while a power failure
caused when the two other youths made contact with the transformer did
not occur until 12 minutes later. He said one youth who had survived the
transformer episode confirmed that the police were not chasing him and
his friends at the time.
On Thu, 2005-11-03 at 01:43, Ruben Safir wrote:
> 7th night of violence in Paris
> 03/11/2005 08:02 - (SA)
> French riot police officers run past a burning truck in Paris suburb,
> Aulnay-sous-Bois. (Christophe Ena, AP)
> Related Articles
> * Unrest spreads in Paris
> * Paris rocked by unrest
> * Cops, youths in ongoing clashes
> * Destruction as youths riot
> Paris - Violence broke out in impoverished Paris suburbs for the seventh
> straight night, with rioters clashing with police and leaving a trail of
> torched cars and vandalised premises on Thursday.
> In Aulnay-sous-Bois, in the worst-affected area of Seine-Saint-Denis, a
> police station was briefly besieged by gangs of youths while a gymnasium
> and a garage were set ablaze and a commercial centre vandalised, a fire
> service spokesperson said.
> A total of 40 vehicles, including two buses, were torched before
> midnight in nine towns in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, a
> high-unemployment largely-immigrant department, according to local
> police who made 15 arrests.
> Two primary schools were also damaged in the area northeast of the
> French capital.
> Calls for police to leave
> Elsewhere a France 2 TV crew were forced by hooded youths to abandon
> their car, which was then set ablaze by 40 rioters.
> The riots were first triggered last Thursday by the accidental
> electrocution of two youths, aged 15 and 17, who had scaled an
> electrical relay station's walls to escape a police identity check in
> Since then, tensions - punctuated by the night-time confrontations -
> have increased in the low-rent suburbs that surround Paris and house
> many immigrants or descendants of immigrants from France's former
> African colonies.
> The firing of a police tear gas grenade against a mosque in
> Clichy-sous-Bois during clashes late on Sunday also sparked rage in the
> suburb's large Muslim community.
> Increasingly observers are pointing to France's failure to address deep
> problems of poverty and immigration.
> The violence has so shaken authorities that President Jacques Chirac
> came forward on Wednesday to call for calm and vowed to investigate the
> teens' deaths.
> "Tempers must calm down," a spokesperson quoted him as telling his
> Chirac warned that "an escalation of disrespectful behaviour would lead
> to a dangerous situation" and asserted that "there can be no area
> existing outside the law" in France.
> Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin put off indefinitely a trip to
> Canada originally scheduled for Wednesday to call an emergency meeting
> of ministers to discuss the problem.
> He said he was counting on Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy - who
> cancelled a trip next week to Pakistan and Afghanistan to deal with the
> situation - to "take the necessary measures."
> As on the previous night, the violence radiated to other departments
> ringing Paris.
> Dozens more vehicles were set ablaze in the Hauts-de-Seine region west
> of Paris where another police station was the target of Molotov
> cocktails. Three people were arrested there.
> Meanwhile 40 hooded youths vandalised a commercial centre just 200
> metres from the Seine-Saint-Denis police headquarters, in front of which
> one car was set on fire.
> Mediators called for the immediate withdrawal.