Monday, November 07, 2005

Paris still burning, still.

I thought that I would compile a, uh, compilation of what various French officials and politicians are saying as well as what some of the various news organizations around the world are saying about the "Paris is still burning" situation. I resolved to try to refrain from any snark because the quoted passages usually say it all but found that resolution impossible to fulfill.

Patrick Hamon, a spokesman for the Paris police:
There continues to be a slight widening of these riots. In those areas where there is a strong police presence, things are leveling off.
Leveling off to what, to a normal riot mode, a sustainable property loss level? Jean-Louis Debre, president of France's parliament and mayor of Evreux, on France Info radio:
What do you want? To live in a more just, caring society? This isn't how to do that.
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in a column in the French daily Le Monde:
We will bring order and calm back to these regions that were too long abandoned. Everywhere in this republic, and not just the nice (nice? Nice?) neighborhoods, the French have a right to live in safety.
Yeah, the French don't live in the shitholes, foreign immigrants do.
Francois Hollande, secretary general of the opposition Socialist party, called for a parliamentary debate on the riots.
Resolved: That riots, shooting police officers, arson and destruction of private property are to be considered less than beneficial to France's already laughable international reputation. "I know, let's have a spelling contest." (Doc Holliday, Tombstone)

KavKaz (Turkey):
The civil riot movement, which started 10 days ago in the suburbs of Paris, where immigrants live, cannot be resolved.
Wow! Cannot be resolved, you mean, like, not ever? Paris, City of Fights.
The fights between the youth and the police spread to Nice, Toulouse (avoid La Trek to Toulouse), Marsilya (I think they mean Marseille), Lille and Rouen after they emerged in Paris.

Sarkozy: We are trying to be firm and avoid any provocation.
What, provoke a riot?

The violence grew once the Montfermeil mosque was bombed, and due to the fact that Sarkozy labeled the young people living in this district as tramps and vagabonds.
Aha! Burn the city down because police moved against a mosque from where they were being attacked and Sarkozy called a spade a spade. It's all Sarkozy's fault.

al Reuters:
France's main Muslim organisations feuded on Monday over a fatwa one group (Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), a large group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood) issued against rioting after officials suggested Islamist militants might be fanning unrest across the country.

But Dalil Boubakeur, head of France's Muslim Council and rector of the moderate Grand Mosque of Paris, denounced the move on Monday as equating Islam with vandalism and blaming all Muslims for the rioting whether they were involved or not.

Boubakeur, a political ally of President Jacques Chirac, said "many Muslims are surprised and regret that, in these dramatic and reprehensible circumstances, some Muslim organisations such as the UOIF think they can invoke God's name in a call for calm. We urge strict respect for French law," he said in a pointed jab at the UOIF for not mentioning law in its fatwa.
The Scotsman:
French rioting spreads to 300 towns.

. . . a man hurt in the violence has died of his wounds - the first fatality in 11 days of unrest.
Unrest? How about; Complete anarchy in the streets? How about; French lose control of France? No, it's "unrest".
The victim was identified as 61-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, who died after being beaten by an attacker. The man, a retired car industry worker, was trying to extinguish a fire in a rubbish bin last Friday at his housing project in the northeastern suburb of Stains when an attacker caught him by surprise and beat him into a coma, police said.
I wonder if the murderer left any stains?
Attacks were reported in 274 towns, and police made 395 arrests, Gaudin (France's national police chief, Michel Gaudin) said.
Now, look closely at those two numbers. 274 riots with 395 arrests. That's less than two arrests per riot. Aren't there any police at all in France? Or maybe just none of them are working this month.
Australia, Britain, Germany and Japan advised their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States, Russia and at least a half dozen other countries in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.
Remember, avoid La Trek to Toulouse.

CBC News (Canada):
Apparent copycat attacks were reported in Germany and Belgium overnight. Five cars were burned outside the main train station in Brussels, while a handful of vehicles were torched in Berlin and the western German city of Bremen. "The law must have the last word," Chirac warned, after nightly rioting spread from the immigrant-dominated suburbs of Paris to other communities over 11 days. "The republic is quite determined, by definition, to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear," Chirac said after a special security meeting of cabinet ministers.
"quite determined, by definition". Well, that's certainly good to know. What possible effect will "quite determined, by definition" have on 15 year-old immigrants burning cars for fun?

The Age (Australia):
After an emergency meeting with President Chirac and senior ministers on Sunday, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said there would be "a reinforcement of security forces anywhere in the country if it is necessary. We will not accept any lawless zone."
What would he consider "if it is necessary"? I know, the rioters demand Algerian independence. No, wait, that already happened.
President Chirac said that "those who want to sow violence and fear . . . will be arrested, judged and punished," adding that "certain decisions" had been taken to boost the police numbers during the crisis.
"certain decisions" have been taken. Heh. When G. W. Bush takes "certain decisions", entire governments cower or fall - see Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan.

Al Jazeera:
The growing violence is forcing France to confront long-simmering anger in its suburbs, where many Africans and their French-born children live on society's margins, struggling with high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair - fertile terrain for crime of all sorts as well as for Muslim extremists offering frustrated youths a way out.
As opposed, of course, to the high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair that they suffer in their native countries, in addition to starvation and being shot dead in their tracks on the streets.

The BBC: This is written by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, and you are not going to believe this, or, maybe you are:
There is of course a huge well of fury and resentment among the children of North African and African immigrants in the suburbs of French cities. The suburbs have been woefully ignored for 30 years.

Violence there is regular and unexceptionable. Even on a normal weekend, between 20 and 30 vehicles are regularly attacked and burned by rioters.
So this is just a slight escalation from situation - normal? Now, a shot at Chirac;
If President Jacques Chirac and the centre-right government which supports him had been in full control of France's political life, it is hard to think these long days and nights of continuous rioting would have taken place.

Mr Chirac, standing back until his ministers showed their inability to agree a clear line on the rioting, seems not to have the answers when he speaks now. His presidency is overshadowed by an inescapable sense of past corruption and weakness, and he has governed France at a time when its economy and its position in the world have both declined sharply and markedly.

If the riot police could have restored order they would have done so, but they were overstretched and outwitted, and their only response was more of the kind of violence which made the crowds even more ferocious in their turn.
I see, it's the riot police's fault. They apparently took some violent action in anticipation of country-wide riots which they anticipated would last for weeks and spread to other countries and therefore caused those riots. Uh huh. Next, a shot at Bush and Blair;
No matter that events have thoroughly borne out his criticisms of the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Muslim teenagers who briefly applauded him then have long since forgotten all that - though of course if he had supported President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair then, he would be in even greater trouble now.
Next, a shot at Charles de Gaulle, RIP, who is in no position to defend himself, last time we checked.
In 1968, too, President Charles de Gaulle and his ministers spoke sternly of the need for order to be restored immediately, and yet they did nothing.
Now, the BBC's World Affairs Editor praises the violence as the only way anything gets done in France:
France, though, tends to move forward in fits and starts, rather than organically, and these fits and starts are often associated with violence.

Spirit of revolution

Thanks to the Revolution, violence even has a kind of virtue which it simply does not possess in a country like Britain. When government becomes incapable of change, the crowds in the streets have to do the changing for themselves.

There is a great deal that has to be changed. I have seen many times for myself how the CRS, the deeply aggressive and ferocious force of riot police, have attacked Muslims and Africans in the streets in times of trouble.

Last April, Amnesty International singled out the violence and racism of the French police towards the non-white people of the suburbs for particular criticism.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, now seems to be playing politics with the situation by appealing to the most basic and resentful attitudes of conservative France.

Much of the violence on the streets of France's cities is mindless; some of it is malign. But simply stamping it down will not work - and anyway the CRS and the civil police have tried that, and their toughness has only made things worse.

France is going to have to change towards its unwilling, often unwelcome young second-generation population, and accommodate them better.

It is not enough to demand that these people drop their sense of themselves and fit in with the way France has traditionally ordered its affairs.

But most of all there has to be change in attitudes at the top. And if Mr Chirac cannot do it, he will be fatally damaged as president.
OK, so the riots are the fault of the French government, the French police and the (white) French people. That may be so, or partially so, but that is a reason to applaud the violence and a reason not to end it?

At the end of this article which blames Chirac, Bush, Blair and de Gaulle for the burning of cars, buses, libraries, schools, businesses and police stations and the murder of retired people as well as the shootings of police officers, the editors of the venerable BBC invite comments from readers. From European readers we get the usual platitudes about the poor African Muslim immigrants (ever consider returning to Africa? No? OK, I continue.) and their desperate plight where they are either forced to assimilate or not allowed to assimilate and forced to drop their sense of themselves. But, from the USA we get a little firmer stance (except from some wuss named Christopher Nolan, Clermont, New York, who says, hilariously, "Confrontation will not work. Dialogue across the divide is what is required.")

Matthew Gray, Chicago:
I strongly disagree with the appeasement mentality that the author displays. If anything, French authorities have not acted strong enough to eliminate the violence. Say what you want about American politics, but no American city would allow such rioting without activation of the National Guard and the ultimate crushing of the vandals.
Alex, Orange,USA:
I do not agree with Mr. Simpson's view in the respect the that there is no easy solution, I believe there is and it is simply to restore order by force, meaning to bring in troops, restore order and deport any aliens taking part of this. It's hard to believe this situation has continued for more than two days and was tolerated. France needs to rid itself from these elements at any price.
John C, New York:
Mr. Simpson's article is hopelessly biased to the left. Why is Mr. Sarkozy "playing politics" by calling criminals criminals and by enforcing the law? Why do you heap criticism on the French government but give not an ounce to the malicious hooligans who have destroyed private property and now killed an innocent man? And why do you compare this to 1968? This is not a revolution, it's a mass criminal frenzy. The complacent and apologetic attitude of the European press will fan the flames of this activity much more than the hard-nosed attitude of Sarkozy.
Are we the only free people on earth who still know how how to fight for that freedom? We and Tony Blair and his soldiers, that is. Sometimes it certainly seems so.

Note: I was standing outside a hotel in Oaxaca with my kids awaiting a taxi when a tour bus pulled up and disgorged its load of French turistas, yesterday. My first thought was, "They've come to Mexico to escape the violence in their country (heh heh). Unfortunately, I don't have their Formal Articles of Surrender to back up this story. You'll just have to take my word for it.


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