Thursday, November 03, 2005


What the hell is going on in Paris?

Rioting youths opened fire on police and set dozens of vehicles ablaze in a seventh night of violence in Paris.

In escalating unrest, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs.

At least 15 people were arrested and nine injured across north-east Paris.

France's government is facing mounting criticism of its handling of the riots, triggered by the deaths last week of two teenagers of African origin.

Bouna Traore, aged 15 and Zyed Benna, 17, were electrocuted at an electricity sub-station. Local people say they were fleeing police during a disturbance, a claim the authorities deny.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy met with the boys' families on Thursday, as a criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry into their deaths were opened....

...Mr Sarkozy has caused controversy by labelling the rioters as "scum" and saying many of the suburbs need "industrial cleaning", but Mr de Villepin has preached a more conciliatory message, urging ministers not to "stigmatise" vast areas....

...French politicians are facing up to the reality that many of the mainly immigrant populations in cities have long been in a state of chronic tension, says the BBC's European Affairs correspondent William Horsley.

Immigrants and their offspring make up 10% of France's population, but many are without French citizenship and the right to vote. They also suffer the highest rate of unemployment, and their relations with the police are generally difficult or hostile, our correspondent says.
France needs to recognize that its growing Muslim minority is not going anywhere, and that things like unofficial job discrimination are simply not acceptable. Yes, French Muslims (as well as any ethnic group, majority, minority or otherwise) should make efforts to avoid insularity and xenophobia, but these two things are interrelated.

After all, in the end, I think all Frenchmen (and -women) can get together and agree on the one thing that really matters:

they, really, really don't like Dubya.

And if you've got shared interests, that's the first step towards a fruitful relationship!

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