Twelfth night of French rioting

After 11 consecutive nights of rioting in France, the French government has leapt lurched crawled into action:

PARIS (AP) – France’s Cabinet authorized curfews under a state-of-emergency law Tuesday in an extraordinary measure to halt the country’s worst civil unrest in decades after violence raged for a 12th night.

Local officials “will be able to impose curfews on the areas where this decision applies,” President Jacques Chirac said.

“It is necessary to accelerate the return to calm,” he said.

The decree will become effective at midnight on Tuesday, government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said. The list of cities and towns where curfews will be authorized were to be decided later Tuesday.

The curfews are authorized under a 50-year-old law that allows the declaring of a state of emergency in all or parts of France. The law was originally passed to curb unrest in Algeria during the war there that led to the North African nation’s independence from France.

“I have decided, applying the law of April 3, 1955, to give the forces of order supplementary measures of action to ensure the protection of our citizens and their property,” Chirac said at the Cabinet meeting. “I ask you to implement these measures as rapidly as possible, in a spirit of responsibility and respect.”

Among other powers, police will be able to conduct raids if they suspect weapons are being stockpiled, said Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy added.

An ambitious expansion of social services was also promised:

M de Villepin gave a televised address last night in which he softened a pledge of firmness with the announcement of measures aimed at easing the plight of the ethnic Arab and African minorities on the housing estates where young men have been running riot since October 28.

Without giving any figures, he said that a programme to build better council blocks would be accelerated, scholarships for bright children would be tripled and all school dropouts would be offered training and apprenticeships from 14.

Measures to stamp out discrimination over housing and jobs would also be intensified. M de Villepin said the Government was aware that French citizens from the ethnic minorities suffered because they were made to feel different. “We have to respond to this,” he said.

The slowness of the French government to respond and the nature of the response suggests a conflict within the government between those who wish a more decisive crackdown, a view usually associated with Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, and those who wish to address “the root causes” of the problem, a view usually associated with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

An expansion of government spending would have repercussions beyond France’s borders. France is already in violation of the EU’s deficit guidelines and countries who are living within the guidelines are beginning to complain that “some of the animals are more equal”.

The announcements have done little to stem the violence:

In the 12th night of rioting, French police said 1,173 cars were torched in 226 districts in cities including Toulouse, Lyon, Marseille and Avignon, bringing the total of burned vehicles to almost 6,000. The euro fell to a two-year low against the dollar as incidents of violence were reported in Germany and Belgium.

There remains little evidence that the violence is being instigated by radical Islam. I’ve seen no evidence that the riots are being planned or directed by radical Muslims or evidence that radical imams are urging the rioters on. If anything, the opposite is true:

PARIS, November 5, 2005 ( – Imams in the Paris suburban region of Seine-Saint-Denis have refuted claims that Islam was being used to fan the flames of rioting that continues to grip the capital, citing continued efforts to calm down the situation.

“Devout Muslims would never do such actions which run in the face of basic Islamic tenets against sabotage,” Zuhair Buraik, the imam of Tariq Bin Ziyad mosque, told on Saturday, November 5.

Daw Meskine, the imam of the Clichy-Sous-Bois mosque and the secretary general of the French Council of Imams, agreed.

“Security forces have not implicated any pious Muslims in the rioting and violence, behind the clashed with the police,” he said.

I continue to see the rioting as a conflict of français with français de souche (of French stock). The rioters consider themselves to be French. But many of the French do not. This will be an ongoing problem for the ethnic states of Europe. Their economic and social systems require a growing workforce; the non-immigrant birthrate in many of these countries is below the rate of replacement. Demographics will tell. Since the birth rates of Arab countries seem to have peaked, many of Europe’s new immigrants will be from sub-Saharan Africa.

Previous posts on this subject:

November 3
November 4
November 5
November 6
November 7

UPDATE: EU Rota notes that the American Left Blogosphere is almost completely silent on the riots in France. I’ve been complaining for nearly a week that too many in the American Right Blogosphere are completely off the rails on this issue. Normally sane and sensible people are drawing their conclusions based on insufficient or otherwise flawed data.

Jack Grant of Random Fate, an American scientist living and working in France, notes:

The violence has spread to the town in which I live. I doubtless have met and spoken with some of those now rioting. You see, I spend time in the “ethnic neighborhoods” looking for photos to take.

The origins of the current violence in France are complex, and simplistic linking of the riots to Islamist incitement is not only betraying a partisan agenda that uses the same “logic” as racism, but ultimately is damaging because it creates a distraction from the larger struggle the United States is engaged upon. This wider conflict is not against Islam, but rather against a radical philosophy that uses Islam as a tool to manipulate, just as politicians in the United States use scare and smear tactics as tools to gain votes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Weapons of Mass Destruction has a good round-up of blogospheric commentary on the riots in France with representation from a variety of views.

MORE: The quote of the day on the riots is from AFOE:

Apparently the rioters in France are about to form a union and will soon be limited to wreaking mayhem 32 hours per week.

Joseph Marshall of A Straight Shot of Politics who has been too long absent from the blogosphere has a great post on the riots. He’s terribly disillusioned: the Bush government is not the most feckless one on the planet—the Chirac government is worse. “The French have an entire government of Michael Browns.”

Megan McArdle of Asymmetrical Information gives a good answer to the question why are the rioters in France rioting:

Muslim youth are rioting in France because breaking windows and setting cars on fire is fun.

Which doesn’t mean, of course, that it’s excuseable or that it won’t have political repercussions or that it couldn’t be harnessed by the very worst elements in society.

Clive Davis continues to have great, sane coverage of this subject:

Although No Pasaran! has some tantalising snippets about Islamist ties to the riots, I’m still waiting for detailed reports about what exactly is going on.

More sanity from Anglo-Nigerian blogger NaijaBlog:

But one cannot anglo-mock too much: what is going on in France is only a more extreme version of what you can see up and down the UK at the moment. Disaffected youth with parents who dont care where they are, wearing hooded tops and amassing at night in large groups thanks to cellphone connectivity. On Friday evening as I waited in Finchley in a car I saw a confrontation between two gangs (about 40 people involved in total) – the average probably around 16 or 17. At least one kid was hospitalised a few feet away from me, for no good reason.

The West has managed to create a cold heartless and anonymous culture around itself; a whole generation of kids with no moral values or direction. Some might say this is what a largely atheistic society will always come to look like: directionless, random, violent, fearful. The last time I tried to intervene (a chap had his bike stolen by 12 year old urchins in Clerkenwell) I nearly got beaten up by a phallanx of malnourished estate-trash. The UK sometimes seems like it is falling into a Lord-of-the-Flies/J.G. Ballard hell: an anonymous landscape of retail sheds, traffic and violent yobs, with football the only vestige of a socio-cultural glue. Its not very loveable.

Ralph Peters has a brutal but not completely unfair analysis of the riots in The New York Post.

If you want to put faces to the “two youths”, Bouna Traore, aged 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, whose deaths sparked the riots:

Both they and their parents were born in France. Hat tip: Black Looks. She’s got an absolutely fabulous round-up of commentary, BTW.

Michael Balter, who lives a short walk away from where some of the riots have taken place, gives his take on the conditions that have fostered the riots. Hat tip: Dean Esmay.

More sanity (and commentary on the Peters article) from Winds of Change.

24 comments… add one
  • Ron Link

    Jack Grant’s superficial analysis borders on the racist. There is an undercurrent of coerced separatism operating in the French situation. Part of it is cultural, with the immigrants refusing to bow to the “Frenchness” of their new country. Cultures fighting to survive, resisting the natural engulfment that can occur with emigration.

    The religious component is huge, and those who deny it lose all credibility. Islam is inherently separatist. Actually, Islam is supremacist, but in the politically correct multiculturalism of the west, separatism and supremacism are not distinguished. The goal is a world under Sharia. Nothing less will do.

  • “There remains little evidence that the violence is being instigated by radical Islam. I’ve seen no evidence that the riots are being planned or directed by radical Muslims or evidence that radical imams are urging the rioters on.”

    Oh yeah? Maybe not “instigated,” “planned,” or “directed” — it may be more grassroots and spontaneous than that. By now you’ve probably seen this: “Evidence the Paris Riots Are Actually the French Intifada” (Andrew Sullivan linked to it). I’m not saying it necessarily refutes you, but you might want to take a crack at refuting it.

  • To Ron: Actually, I am not denying that the roots of the riots lie in racism that exists in France.

    What I am decrying is the immediate response from the radical right-wing that since the rioters are mainly Muslim, it somehow adds “proof” to their assertions that Islam is inherently violent.

    In other words, the opposite of your statement that what I say borders on racism. Did you read all the posts I have on this topic? I believe not, given your final sentence on Sharia, because you seem to be among the group seeking out a connection that does not exist, and it appears that your “logic” is that which is both superficial and bordering on racist, as I described in my first post on this topic “Fear and hate“. I suggest you read it before you accuse me of being superficial and racist.

  • There’s nothing to refute there, amba. It’s all anecdotal, unsourced, or poorly sourced.

    I honestly don’t know whether the riots have been provoked or are being planned or whatever word you want to use by radical Islamists. They live in a poor neighborhood where Muslims live and all Muslims are radical Islamists? I just don’t buy it. It’s circular reasoning that assumes the conclusion in order to prove it.

    Intifada implies Arab involvement and we don’t know what the antecedents of the rioters are. There appear to be North African, sub-Saharan African, and Caribbean people involved. Muslims? We don’t know. Lots of sub-Saharan Africans are animists and Christians.

    I’d like to see some harder evidence before arriving at my judgement. Unfortunately, neither the government nor the media are cooperating very well. And the French blogosphere has been rather silent on the subject. Except for the French bloggers who were arrested for instigating riots, of course. But even for those we have no links so I can’t evaluate what was actually going on.

  • Rick Townley Link

    Some people might object to equating the religion of islam with an ethnicity or race. In other words, calling someone racist who is suspicious of the motives of islam is pure ignorant rant. That in itself might logically be considered racism, equating a religion with a race. Certainly unintelligent at the very least.

  • Oh bloody hell, yet more ignorant tripe.

    First, of course, as anyone actually consuming French media directly can tell from images alone, a large percentage of the rioters are simply “black” – I for one am unable to discern religion (or for that matter in many respects nationality) by sight, so the over the top shrieking on about Islam and Muslims is quite simply unfactual. What is factual is that the marginalised (both self and by system) immigrant descended non-“white” youth that the French system has not dealt with effectively have exploded. Lumping this into the Islam pot merely exposes axe grinding.

    Second, as a French colleague noted, there’s a good number of non-darkies out burning (as quite simply for teenagers, setting things on fire is, indeed, fun – see post sport game riots), they’re presumably not “Muslims” either being of French stock (as a percentage of the arrested appear to be).

    Third, given the racialised divide in France in the area of religion (and indeed with respect to American perceptions of Arabs and Islam), using the term racist, while imprecise, gets to the point. Bigotted would probably be more accurate, but racist is hardly an “unintelligent” usage.

    What is clear is that there is a poorly disguised strain of fearful bigotry running through many commentator’s minds with respect to Islam, and given the slightest excuse, it comes out rather strongly.

  • I might add that things like this are pure bigotry: Actually, Islam is supremacist, but in the politically correct multiculturalism of the west, separatism and supremacism are not distinguished. The goal is a world under Sharia. Nothing less will do.

    Indeed Islamic theory would like – just like Xianity – to see the whole world convert, although one might well add that at least, unlike historical Xianity, Islamic theology allows for other monotheists.

    This aside, it’s rather clear, actually working and living in the Islamic world, that most Muslims are not particularly obsessed bout “a world under Sharia” (and indeed only Saudia and Iran pretend to try to do so, most countries actually use Code Civil, with Sharia based law for family law). Even the banking systems I work with operate on Western bases.

    But the ignorant Islamophobes will whinge on as they like.

  • Bloodworthy Link

    Fascinating discussion. One should note that Islam has bloody borders. From Thailand to the PI to Sudan to Nigeria to Paris to Amsterdam to Gaza to Beirut to Chechnya–Islam is a bloody, bloody place. Islam does not tolerate other religions within its province. Intolerant and bloody. Intolerant and bloody and expanding by rapid birthrates. Paris burns now. Tomorrow it will be Berlin. Europe must learn to love the third world, must learn to love the religion of the third world, which is Islam.

  • OK Amba, I’ll take a crack at the link you provide. I personally think there are some radicals egging them on, trying to recruit, etc. but there’s a difference between a few people (all you need for those islamist websites) and the character of the mob (if indeed a mob can have a character to begin with).

    The bumper stickers: I love this sentence “The fact also remains, according to many witnesses, that the rioters torch only “white” cars, meaning white owned cars, and spare “Islamic” or “black” ones.” So the fact is that several people said its a rule of thumb for mob (again, assuming they all follow the same rules). Several people. Well, that’s clearly etched in stone.

    Turkish PM scarf law: as Coming Anarchy pointed out, Turkey doesn’t allow scarves either. Hmmmm.

    Rioters shouting jihad, residents call it baghdad-on-the-seine, etc: no one ever said there wasn’t a significant muslim population there. That has nothing to do with radical islam however, and in any crazed mob people are, well, crazed. People get so irrational under those conditions I wouldn’t be surprised if there were Coptic Christians calling for jihad in the crowd, cuz it seemed like the thing to do.

  • slam does not tolerate other religions within its province. Intolerant and bloody. Intolerant and bloody and expanding by rapid birthrates.

    Uhuh. That obviously explains the large non-Muslim minorities that existed in Dar Al Islam.

    Or in short, utter rubbish.

    The amount of stupid, ignorant religious bigotry generated is depressing if expected

  • Bloodworthy, you might like to take a look at this post of Dean Esmay’s. The world’s largest democracy has a substantial Muslim minority. Another of the world’s largest democracies has a Muslim majority. Is it all sweetness and light in the Muslim world? Of course not. It isn’t in the non-Muslim world, either. But not every Muslim country is a Stalinist hellhole.

  • Ron Link

    Interesting comment, Bloodworthy. Far more intelligent than anything we get from loonsbury, to be sure.

    Dave, the example of India’s large muslim minority merely emphasizes the tolerance of the Indian government and people. The muslims in India have been no end of trouble for all of that tolerance.

    As for Indonesia, Christian teenage girls are getting their heads chopped off by muslim thugs. In Thailand, a gentle country of Buddhists, the muslims are creating havoc. I have to agree with Huntington and others who feel dismay at muslims inability to coexist with people of other cultures.

  • It’s a bloody ignorant comment made out of sheer bigotry, but then the commentator “Ron” would of course agree with such.

    Now, to illustrate the bigotry angle, let’s take a look at Thialand: of course one can spin, out of religious bigotry, “peaceful Budhists” (although that is such a naive statement as to be droolingly stupid) versus bloodythirsty Muslims, but the reality is rather more complicated – should one want actual information (which of course bigots do not want). The Thia troubles are (i) ethnic in origin and (ii) set off by heavy handed and violent police action (use of deadly force) against protestors and the like.

    Indeed ethnic tensions and heavy handed violent repression is something that has fuck all to do with religion (see Chechnya, e.g but then of course now that Muslims are the new Communists, they’re automaticallly at fault, not say the Russians leveling cities with no regard for civilians and using rape and extortion as police methods – it’s the savage Muslims of course)

    But you’re only interested in the Comic Book version of things.

    Muslims “inability” to coexist with others is pure bigotry of the most pedestrian kind, nothing more than the same kind of selective tripe that my Protestant forebears loved to pimp about the “bloody” Catholics devil-worshipping inferiority and the like (and of course historically illiterate given the Islamic world’s history of taking in Jews and the like expelled from Europe on pain of forced conversion – but then historical moments change and peoples learn and unlearn tolerance).

  • Ron, I’m pretty much an equal opportunity mistruster. I think that there are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim thugs. I also think that most people of all religions and ethnicities pretty much just want to be left alone to go about their lives.

    I think that there are a handful of extremely problematic regimes in the Muslim world. For sheer horrific ghastliness it would be difficult for any regime any where at any time to beat the Chinese.

    Now right at this second we’ve got a bone to pick with some individual thugs and some thuggish regimes who just happen to be Muslim (I suspect that there are some Muslims and Muslim regimes that feel the same way about us whether rightly or wrongly). That doesn’t mean that every injury perpetrated by anybody who might possibly be a Muslim is inspired by religious frenzy. Or that there can’t be good, decent, people who are devout Muslims.

    Lounsbury, do you never sleep? 😉

  • Not when I need to crank out a doccy. And it got done.

  • Ron Link

    Dave, of course most people want to be left in peace. That still leaves a few billion people who want to make mischief. Several hundred million of those mischief makers happen, by some coincidence, to be muslim.

    Part of the muslim problem is cultural, part is religious, and part is something else. The third world is primitive for many good reasons. A primitive culture maintains a lot of primitive momentum through its customs, traditions, and religions. The Islamic world is on the whole quite primitive, other than where westerners and chinese have brought enlightenment from the outside.

  • Yet more stupid tripe I see.

    Primative, in this case, apparently means “people I am afraid of for irrational reasons of bigotry” given the core of the Islamic world, the MENA region, actually has quite decent (with some exceptions) infrastructure and the like (largely built post decolonisation as well, no thanks to the under-investing rent extracting colonisers one may add).

    The pretension that the Islamic world has merely been “enlightened” by Chinese and ‘Westerners’ is of course your usual form of bigotry and ‘of they’re not really capable’ sort of pedestrian prejudice. There is no doubt the MENA core is troubled and has been in a long term decline from its much vaunted heights, but to pretend it is “quite primative” is gross idiocy.

    Extraordinary, never the less, the despite the observable fact of a large non-Muslim component in the French riots (the black Africans of non-Muslim backgrounds, as well as some Antillais and ‘euro’ French), the bigots simply want to bang on about “Muslims”

  • Jack Ford Link

    Thanks for a breath of fresh air, Ron. Most people seem cowed into tip-toeing around the obvious truth. Brainrotted codgers go on and on about “bigots” and “racists” but there are times when only the truth will do. Good on you.

  • The obvious truth is that bigots such as yourself have near zero knowledge about the actual situation and are playing the typical “pick and choose what makes me case” game.

  • I add reference to David Ignatius’s wise column from The Washington Post; like most persons actually literate in French and familiar with the situ, no banging on about the faux problem of Islamist intefadas:

  • Great contribution, Lounsbury. I’ll put a link to Ignatius’s excellent column in my most recent post on the subject.

    I’d place the start of the US learning curve on this subject a little farther back than Ignatius does. Nearly 200 years. I think that the Irish were the US’s first great diversity challenge—they weren’t originally considered “white”. Then around the turn of the 20th century were the Italians and Jews. He’s right, of course, about the turmoil in the 1960’s.

  • Well, I agree in many respects. The rhetoric towards Muslims sounds like a copy paste from my Protestant ancestors outrageous fulminations justifying their bigotry towards Catholics. Very similar, with similar kind of broad, sweeping, ahistorical judgements being made on selective interpretation and history.

  • Ron Link

    Jack, we seem to have a typical debauch commenter here whose sum total of knowledge could be contained in a small toy thimble. Nevertheless, those of us willing to point out the huge contribution to the ill of the world by modern muslims, and virtually no contribution to the common good, will continue to observe and report. If muslims ever decide to join the world, rather than trying to conquer in in typically cruel and inept ways, the rest of the world will welcome them. In the mean time, best to prepare for more insanity.

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