French rioting claims first fatality

The rioting in France which began 11 days ago in the impoverished largely immigrant Parisian suburbs and has spread to the city proper, other urban areas in France, and even to other European countries has claimed its first fatality:

PARIS (AP) – A man who was beaten by an attacker while trying to extinguish a trash can fire during riots north of Paris has died of his injuries, becoming the first fatality since the urban unrest started 11 days ago, a police official said Monday. Youths overnight injured three dozen officers and burned more than 1,400 vehicles.

Apparent copycat attacks spread to other European cities for the first time, with five cars torched outside Brussels’ main train station, police in the Belgian capital said.

Australia, Austria and Britain became the latest countries to advise their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States and Russia in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.

Alain Rahmouni, a national police spokesman, said the man who was beaten died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack, but he had no immediate details about the victim’s age or his attacker.

The man was caught by surprise by an attacker after rushing out of his apartment building to put out the fire, Rahmouni said.

Clashes around France left 36 police injured, and vandals burned 1,408 vehicles overnight Sunday-Monday, setting a new high for overnight arson and violence since the rioting started Oct. 27, national police chief Michel Gaudin said

I haven’t been able to discover the name or antecedents of the man who was killed but I think it can reasonably be inferred that he was an immigrant (or the child of an immigrant), too (UPDATE: cf. below).

Here’s what we know so far about the riots:

  • The riots began 11 days ago after two teenage boys who, judging by their first names (all that we have) were of North African descent, fled the police into an electrical power station and were electrocuted. UPDATE: One of the teenagers is thought to have been of sub-Saharan Malian origin, the other of Moroccan origin cf. comment.
  • The violence escalated rapidly after a statement by French interior minister Nicholas Sarkozy condemning the riots and calling for a re-establishing of order. It has been noted that Mr. Sarkozy’s comments were widely quoted out of context.
  • Roughly 5,000 cars, 50 buses, and an undetermined number of trucks have been torched in the ensuing violence.
  • There have been roughly 1,200 arrests throughout the 11 days.
  • Schools, post offices, police stations, and stores have been ransacked and burned.
  • One man has been killed.
  • One handicapped woman was set afire and suffered severe burns over 20% of her body.
  • Nearly 100 policemen have been injured in the course of the riots, most by thrown rocks or birdshot.
  • Several policemen have been injured severely.
  • The areas in which the riots began are poor and largely inhabited by immigrants, the children of immigrants, or the grandchildren of immigrants.
  • Most of the immigrants in the chaud areas are from former French colonies in North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa of both Arab and non-Arab ancestry.
  • Many of the people in the affected areas are Muslims or the children or grandchildren of Muslims.
  • A high proportion of the people in these areas are young.
  • The general rate of unemployment in France is over 10%. The rate of unemployment in the affected areas may be as high as 30%. The rate of unemployment among the young in these areas may be over 50%.
  • There have been reports of some of the rioters shouting “Allahu akhbar” while throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails.
  • There have been reports of political (anti-Sarkozy) sentiments among the rioters.
  • The efforts of the French government in quelling the violence so far have been ineffective.
  • The French media have tended to underplay the race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion of the rioters.
  • UPDATE: Libé reports that the man murdered by rioters was Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, a 60 year old.

Here’s what we don’t know so far about the riots:

  • We don’t know the particular racial, ethnic, national origin, or religious composition of the rioters.
  • We don’t know how many of the rioters are practicing Muslims.
  • We don’t know how many of the rioters have been influenced by radical Islamists.
  • We don’t know the name of the man who was killed Cf. above.
  • We don’t really know why they’re rioting at this point. The riots seem to have taken on a life of their own.
  • We don’t know if the French media has de-emphasized the racial, ethnic, national origin, or religious composition of the rioters for reasons of political correctness, because they don’t believe they’re material, or they’re being censored.
  • We don’t know if the French government has the ability or the will to bring the riots under control.
  • We don’t know where the violence will end.

I have read hundreds or thousands of hyperventilating posts and comments on the riots as an intifada, the work of radical Islamists, the work of drug dealers, proof positive that Muslims cannot live peaceably with non-Muslims, etc. In the case of the riots going on in France at best such statements are being made on insuffficient evidence. At worst they’re just bigoted.

I do believe that this degree of disorder, violence, and despair can provide an opportunity for the worst elements in society including radical Muslim agititators. I believe that the government should have established a curfew and enforced it a week ago. And I believe that we should all be concerned about what’s happening in France. France remains a great power: they have nuclear weapons and a permanent, veto-wielding seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Previous posts on this subject:
November 3
November 4
November 5
November 6

UPDATE: I see that Greg Djerejian agrees with me:

Now, I am not one who believes that some pan-Eurabian intifada is in the offing, or that the implications of these riots rival 9/11, or that Shamil Basayev’s guerilla tactics are being adopted off la Place de la Republique–as breathless, under-informed ‘commentary’ has it in some quarters of the blogosphere. But we certainly have a pivot point here, one where the ruling elite’s inefficacy and ineptness is being laid crudely bare for all the world to see. They have been tone-deaf and caught off guard by the depth of the alienation in their midst, and it has now caught them very much unawares and seemingly clueless on how next to respond.

as does James Joyner.

So let’s back off the anti-Muslim rhetoric, shall we? And focus on the more appropriate anti-French rhetoric. 😉

Clive Davis hews more to my position in this discussion and comments on the political and social issues behind the rioting in France. You’re not completely “out of step”, Clive. Hat tip: Glenn.

Courtesy of European Tribune a great cartoon:

Why burn everything?
Because we want recognition!
Why don’t you take off your hoods to go on TV?
Because we don’t want to be recognised!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yet another blogger heard from who doesn’t see religious overtones in the rioting in France. From Coyote Blog:

Call me slow, but I just haven’t seen evidence that the recent violence in Paris has religious overtones. Maybe it is under-reported, but I haven’t seen any targeting of Christians or Jews or Jewish Temples and such that one might expect in intifada-type violence.

Actually, a synagogue was burned but I saw that more as a target of opportunity than an actual objective. I think that France’s welfare state probably does have some relation to the problem but I think a more significant cause is the problems with immigration intrinsic to an ethnic state like France.

11 comments… add one
  • Dave:

    At least one was of Malian origin, NOT North African. I believe both were of Malian or similar origin.

  • Thanks, Lounsbury. I have edited the original post accordingly.

  • Very good. Not sure if your readers know, however, that Mali is sub-Saharan Africa and not at all Arab or North AFrican. Might be useful to point these things out given the amount of hysterical, unfactual blithering on that is going on.

    And again, good work, showing your strengths.

  • “Jean-Jacques” does not sound like a Muslim African. And he was apparently beaten to death for trying to stop the burning. How long before the Foreign Legion is called in, despite the prohibition, to restore order? They’ve been effective protecting French interests in the same parts of the world the rioters come from. And all I want to know about the “deprived conditions” is whether or not they’re better or worse than where the rioters came from and if so, why did they leave?

  • Robert Speirs, what about the rioters who aren’t from somewhere else? My take is that most of the rioters are (by U. S. standards) French i.e. they were born there. They’re not ethnically French; they may not speak French; they may not be culturally French. But they may never have been anywhere else.

  • If I may, Dave, first with respect to the rioters, I would assert with great confidence that all the rioters speak French by any reasonable standard. (even those who speak it as a second language).

    Second, with respect to the frankly idiotic comment about the Foreign Legon, the answer is 30 fucking years.

    Third, most of the rioters, with respect to the same comment, most of the rioters are born and bred in France – the entire immigrant usage merely reflects French prejudice – one thing one remarks in France is the amazing habit of French ‘native French’ of calling 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generation descendants of immigrants, “immigrants” as if they arrived “off the boat.”

    Fourth, American commentators need to buy not just a clue, but a whole bloody fucking education in this area.

    Bloody fucking hell, I have no idea what US coverage of this is, but frankly by reading US blogs, it must be fucking piss poor.

  • Third, most of the rioters, with respect to the same comment, most of the rioters are born and bred in France – the entire immigrant usage merely reflects French prejudice – one thing one remarks in France is the amazing habit of French ‘native French’ of calling 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generation descendants of immigrants, “immigrants” as if they arrived “off the boat.”

    Yes, that was my point.

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