The violence of the last week and a half has spread to the French capital:
PARIS (AP) – Ten nights of urban unrest that brought thousands of arson attacks on cars, nursery schools and other targets from the Mediterranean to the German border reached Paris where at least 28 cars were burned overnight in the French capital, government officials said Sunday.
Police found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a southern suburb of the city, with more than 100 bottles, gallons of fuel and hoods for hiding rioters’ faces, a senior Justice Ministry official said Sunday.
Six youths, all aged under 18, were arrested in the raid Saturday night on a building in Evry south of Paris where the gasoline bombs were being put together, Jean-Marie Huet, the ministry’s director of criminal affairs and pardons, told The Associated Press.
The discovery, Huet said, shows that gasoline bombs being used by rioters “are not being improvised by kids in their bathrooms.”
Some 2,300 police poured into the Paris region to bolster security on a restive Saturday night while firefighters moved out around the city to douse blazing vehicles.
At least 918 vehicles – including those in Paris – were burned during the 10th night of violence, said the Interior Ministry’s operational center tracking the violence. There was no word yet on damage in Paris to shops, gymnasiums, nursery schools and other targets which have been attacked around the country.
Police made 186 arrests nationwide overnight.
Overall more than 3,000 cars have been torched and 30 buses burned. Police stations, schools, post offices, and stores have been burned and ransacked. There have been hundreds of minor injuries. One disabled woman has been severely burned when the bus she was attempting to exit was torched.
Although the damage is spreading into non-immigrant areas most of the rioting has taken place in areas that are homes to people of North African descent—mostly Muslims. These are areas in which the proportion of young people is very high and the proportion of the unemployed is very high. There is little evidence of specific religious motivation in the rioting.
Some have speculated that a de facto millet system in which religious minorities are largely self-governing (as prevailed under the late Ottoman Empire) has arisen or is arising in France and Europe, generally. I think equally fair analogies would be to the semi-autonomous condition of Chinatowns all over the United States for many years. Or the absence of the White Man’s Law in African American communities.
Although the area of the rioting is spreading, presumably into areas with less active police presence, there is no rising tide of violence against persons. What is being seen is widespread hooliganism by packs of idle, unsupervised, and, frankly, feral youths who are mostly of North African descent. Could these young people become a fertile ground for the spreading of radical Islamism? Possibly. But that’s not what’s going on right now.
The primary challenge now is for the French government. Does the government have the ability and the will to bring order? Or have they abandoned the primary responsibility of government—to keep the peace—to the hooligans? This isn’t a bang—it’s a whimper.
UPDATE: A Blog For All correctly notes that media coverage of this story in the United States has been terrible. The rioting had been going on for days before the American news media took any note of it at all.
I think that Ed Morrisey is overstating the Muslim aspect of these riots. Yes, the rioters are predominantly of North African descent. And they may be Muslims. Yes, the coverage of the story in the French media is surreal in ignoring some of these obvious sides of the story. The evidence that they’re rioting to establish a Sharia enclave within the borders of France is very, very slim.