Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who are the Rioters?

I have been following the latest unrest in France with interest, but as of yet, the press at all levels has failed to characterize the youths involved. There are hints . . . "illegal alien," . . . youths from a "ethnic minority community." Is this yet another case of the French ignoring their Muslim problem even as it's kicking them in le derriere?

French police are bracing themselves for fresh outbreaks of violence after hundreds of youths rioted over the arrest of an illegal immigrant at a main railway station in Paris.

The rioters fought running battles with police in and around Gare Du Nord for five hours, set light to rubbish bins and smashed nearby shop windows. . . .

The violence was reminiscent of the riots that flared in Paris’s poor suburbs in 2005 when Nicholas Sarkozy, now a presidential candidate, was Interior Minister. François Baroin, who succeeded Mr Sarkozy this week, said that the rioters used “urban guerrilla” tactics. A total of 13 people were arrested.

The violence erupted on Tuesday, during the evening rush hour, after ticket inspectors stopped a 33-year-old man for jumping over a barrier at Gare du Nord Métro station. The man — described by Mr Baroin as an illegal immigrant with 22 convictions — allegedly headbutted one of the inspectors.

Police said that they were surrounded by youths as they went to arrest the man. Nine officers and inspectors were hurt in the fighting, which lasted until about 1am.

. . . Amateur videos showed between 200 and 300 youths shouting insults aimed at Mr Sarkozy as they faced a line of riot police standing behind their shields. Witnesses said that police charged several times and used tear gas.

“There was a smell of smoke and tear gas,” said a witness who was returning home after a concert. “I was struck by the sight of a group of tourists, certainly foreigners, cowering and hiding at the end of a platform, completely panicked.”

Mr Sarkozy’s opponents said that his hardline law and order policies were partly to blame as they had exacerbated tensions in ethnic minority communities. Mr Sarkozy said: “We are the only country in the world where people think it’s not right to arrest someone who has not paid for his ticket. If the police is not there to ensure a minimum of order, what exactly is its role?”
Police unions said that the violence highlighted the gulf separating French authorities and suburban youths, groups of whom regularly use Gare du Nord as a meeting point.

2005 clashes

20: nights of rioting

19: provinces affected

8,973: vehicles torched

2,888: people arrested

1: person died

€200m: amount of damage caused

The entire article can be found here.

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