What is happening in Paris?

The troubles in Paris just seem to be going on and on. After eleven straight days the riots themselves have claimed its first fatality. There’s no shortage of schadenfreude in liberal Britain or in some circles in Israel. But what is actually going on over there?France’s Ambassador to Ireland Frédéric Grasset gave a candid interview on Morning Ireland this morning (sound file). He suggested that there is a great deal of caution in the reporting of causes in France because of a fear of the political consequences arising. So far although the riots have centred on the Arabic suburbs of of Paris, AFP reports that there is no descernable religious element to the rioting itself. Indeed a Fatwa was declared against rioting on Sunday.

So is it to do with economics? Much of the anti government anger seems focused on Nicolas Sarkozy, the second generation French interior ministry. Unusually for a top French politician of any stripe, he did not attend the École nationale d’administration. Unusually too, he is an admirer of Tony Blair and is known to hanker after the freer Anglo Saxon economic model.

The Nation magazine is in no doubt that political complaicency lies at the bottom of the rioting:

Behind the facade of France’s democratic idealism – Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite – frustration among fast-growing ethnic minorities, which make up almost 10 per cent of the total population, over racism, unemployment and police harassment have been brewing for years, if not decades. Impoverished Muslims and North African immigrants and their children have become disillusioned by harsh social and economic realities, particularly structural factors that they feel have trapped them in a never-ending cycle of poverty and destitution.

Such factors include attempts by France to protect its own particular brand of welfare state at the expense of new entrants to the job market, particularly those belonging to ethnic minority groups, who tend to be poorly educated and low-skilled and therefore less employable. Relegating poor minorities to the outer suburbs hardly make fermenting problems go away, as the current violence has shown.

Rioting provides a way for these second-class citizens to protest a system they feel is keeping them down. No country in the world can lay claim to a harmonious race-relations model that has worked in the past, continues to work today and will work in the future without regular adjustments and overhauls. The process to correct the injustices may be long and fraught with obstacles, but the time to start is now. And the most crucial first step is the restoration of law and order.

It’s worth noting this short thought note on how the left and right tend to box all manner of events into their own pre-set grand narrative.

Richard Delevan, in his new column in yesterday’s Sunday Tribune warns against smugness elsewhere, least of all in Ireland. In the wake of the race riots in LA in 1992, he quotes a report in the Chicago Sun Times: “The consensus of French pundits that something on the scale of the Los Angeles could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger committment to social welfare programs”.

He goes on to note Michael McDowell’s recent speech when he suggested that Ireland could not afford to have a second generation immigrant population that grows up institutionally disaffected from the police force, “we have to plan for this, rather than ending up with a largely white, native force policing migrant communities who don’t feel any bond with the police force”.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    That should probably be headed “What’s happening in France?”

  • Emily

    French pundits think social welfare programs prevent rioting? How does that explain that the majority of the rioting in Los Angeles took place in neighborhoods with heavy populations of people on welfare?

  • Pete Baker

    This First Post article makes that point from a different angle, Emily, namely the heavy-handed state regulation of the workplace condemns immigrant communities to welfare programs.

  • TAFKABO

    Thanks for the Blog Mick.

    For those who don’t know, I live in one of the suburbs affected by the rioting.
    It has caused me no little amount of dismay to see the riots being labelled “Islamic riots” or being interpreted as some kind of militant Islamic uprising, when in fact they are pretty much as described above.Namely the inevitable result of long term economic neglect and racist policies and attitudes of the police force.
    They are not race riots in the sense that you do not see one ethnic group pitted against another, the parts of the suburbs labelled “ghettoes” are economic ghettoes, not racially segregated ones.
    Neither is it the case that all the suburbs are chronically disadvantaged, the area where I live is lower middle class and full of well to do leafy streets and expensive houses.

    From my own perspective the present trouble ought to be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Sarkozy.
    Though the trouble was obviously simmering under the surface and waiting to happen, he played a dangerous game by talking tough about the suburbs.
    With one eye on the Presidential elections in two years time he tried to play up to his nickname of Le Flic or The Cop by making a speech which, roughly translated said that the suburbs needed to be “bleached” clean.
    Well this strategy has backfired on him, and then some.
    Every person I have spoken to wants the violence to stop, but they also understand and empathise with the young people involved.
    It ought to be noted that rather than encouraging the violence, just about every Islamic organisation has called for the violence to stop, though one would be hard pressed to get this message from the disgraceful media coverage over the last ten days or so.

    This trouble started with the death of two young lads on the run from the police.My own opinon is that it will take some more deaths before people stand back and decide that enough is enough.

  • 6countyprod

    AP reports: As urban unrest spread to neighboring Belgium and possibly Germany, the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence, despite massive police deployment and continued calls for calm.

    So maybe the title should be ‘What is happening in Europe?

    John Simpson of the BBC says that Chirac would be in even greater trouble if he had supported President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Iraq . But, maybe if the French had not been such wimps, the Muslims in France might have a little more respect for them.

    Chirac’s weakness was exposed when he failed to help in the overthrow of a Muslim megalomaniac, and when he failed to stop those who were intent on freeing the Iraqi people, and France’s Muslim youth is now exploiting that weakness. France has no interest in giving freedom and equality to its Muslim immigrants, or in helping to free Muslims from bloodthirsty dictators.

    For an interesting perspective from an American with a French wife, read this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    6countprod, “possibly Germany” ? Is it or is it not ? What sort of reporting is that ? Oh, it’s Fox.

  • Emily

    Comrade…that’s just feed from the AP newswire, not a Fox produced story.

  • TAFKABO

    6countyprod

    I’ve just told you that this is not an islamic phenomenon, and I’m a position to know.
    The people rioting are by no means exclusively moslem, nor are the riots about religion or encouraged in any way by religious leaders, least of all islamic clerics who have universally condemned the violence.
    But hey, don’t go letting something as trivial as the facts get in the way of your opinions.

  • 6countyprod

    Right on, Comrade. Let’s not tell anyone what is happening out there.

    The Washington Post has a 1,189 word report on the destruction and violence in France. The word Muslim is used once, in the 22nd paragraph.

    btw, as well as Germany, did you see that Denmark is also getting a little touch of the Muslim European Intifada? Brussels Journal, and Denmark riots.

    Interesting days for liberal Europe.

    A view from Beirut, and from the Captain’s Quarter

  • TAFKABO

    Right on, Comrade. Let’s not tell anyone what is happening out there.

    I’m an Ulster prod, unionist to the core.You are accusing me of coming to live in France and basically lying?

    Cui Bono ?

    The Washington Post has a 1,189 word report on the destruction and violence in France. The word Muslim is used once, in the 22nd paragraph.

    Sorry, is this a defence of my argument or some bizzare support of yours?
    If the article only mentions the word Moslem once, why do you make such a big deal out of it?

    For the record, was the violence is Belfast a month or so back clear evidence of a new Crusade, since most of those rioting were of Christian origin?
    I’d really like to hear your view on that.

  • Henry94

    TAFKABO

    Trouble seems to just follow you around.

    Let me know where you’re going next before I plan my holidays 😉

  • 6countyprod

    Tafkabo,

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Muslims (my Shiite friend, anyway) resent the American spelling ‘moslem’, which you used in your post. You may need to be a little more sensitive in your spelling, although north and west African Muslims (those involved in the riots, right?) are almost exclusively Sunni, so they might not care.

  • 6countyprod

    Tafkabo,

    Whatever gave you the idea that I was accusing you of lying? I was talking to Comrade Stalin in that post (9.34pm).

    I am not discounting you comments. I’m just saying that there seems to be an attempt to play down the fact that the huge majority (99%?) of those involved in these riots are indeed Muslims who have not integrated, assimilated or even feel part of French society. What’s the problem in stating it as it is.

    Most of France’s former colonies in Africa were/are Muslim countries, so it stands to reason that most of the immigrants are Muslim. The Algerians seem to be the ones who are causing most of the problems for the French authorities.

    I am as surpised as anyone at this explosion of ‘youths’. Poor old Jaques is scratching his head and wondering: where did we go wrong?

  • Brian Boru

    The reality is that certain cultures do not mix well. You only have to look at opinion polls in the countries of origin of Muslim immigrants. Even in Turkey – supposedly the Islamic world’s most secular state – a recent poll by a major university has shown that when asked what should happen to a wife who has an affair, 37% say she should be killed, 21% say she should have her nose or one of her ears cut off, while 25% say her husband should divorce her. If these are the attitudes in the most “secular” of the Islamic countries then indeed it is scary to comprehend what those in more extreme fundamentalist countries must be thinking.

    No offence, but Islamic immigrants have consistently demonstrated a stubborn resistance to integration and assimilation. The violence in France is sadly a symptom of this. The mass-migrationist politicians are simply trying to reward their corporate backers with cheap foreign labour, and to hell with cultural concerns as far as they are concerned, or the affects of overcrowding on the health-service etc. It is not good enough for the international Left to condemn all who express fears over immigration as “racist”. Down here in our recent Citizenship referendum where we changed the law so that people born on the island only automatically get Irish citizenship if they have a parent born on the island, the No side called the referendum “racist”. Almost their entire campaign consisted of calling their opponents racist, but 80% of us in the South voted Yes. Ordinary people in the West recognise that there are non-racist justifications for tighter immigration-controls, and it is undemocratic to silence such concerns. In a democracy such people have a right to be heard.

  • TAFKABO

    6countyprod

    I mistook your comments to Comrade Stalin for words aimed at myself, apologies.
    As for the spelling, to be honest, it’s a trivial matter, I’ve never met a single person that would bother to get offended, and if they did I’d tell them to wise up.I get tired of people walking on eggshels around most moslems as if they are liable to go crazy the moment they are offended.It’s a stereotype that needs to be dealt with.

    I’d be surprised if the number of those rioting was 99% moslem.There are no official statistics, but I’d guess 40-60% moslme at most.
    Another point to keep in mind is that a ot of immigrants from former colonies like Algeria are in fact Kabyl, and not even necessarily moslem.
    You can say they haven’t integrated, but I’d suggest that they have not been allowed the opportunity to fully integrate, and this is precisely what they want.
    No special treatment, just equality of opportunity.

    And it’s no great mystery where the state went wrong.
    Keep treating a group of people in a certain manner and they will eventually rise up against you.

    No justice, no peace.
    Same as it ever was.

    Henry

    Do you think my leaving Norn Ireland had anything to do with the current largely positive state of play?
    Maybe I can persuade Bertie and Tony to pay me to stay away?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Right on, Comrade. Let’s not tell anyone what is happening out there

    You posted a made-up, speculative article dressed up as a news report. What point is there in saying “there might be riots in Belgium and Germany” when there’s no flipping evidence that there are ?

    Your desire to blame this on Muslims is no different from the desire in 1930s Germany to blame bad things on Jews. This is nothing to do with religion or liberalism any more than the Los Angeles riots were in the 1990s. Your agenda appears to be religious persecution and that makes you a very dangerous person indeed.

    I’m just saying that there seems to be an attempt to play down the fact that the huge majority (99%?) of those involved in these riots are indeed Muslims who have not integrated, assimilated or even feel part of French society.

    Why don’t you just call call a spade a spade and describe them niggers or pakis ? Most of them are blacks or Arabs.

  • 6countyprod

    Comrade,

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not use derogatory terms. Anyhow, there are probably very few Pakistanis in France, so you can’t blame it on them.

    It’s mostly north Africans involved in the violence, and possibly some sub-saharan Africans, although, if you remember, over the summer, dozens (?) of west Africans died in a series of fires in slum areas of Paris and there wasn’t any violence from them. Black Muslims are nowhere near as radical or extreme as the Arab-speaking north African Muslims.

    I was reading a column by Michael Barone that you might find interesting: Is Paris burning?

  • TAFKABO

    Actually most of those rioting are French, and not naturalised French, but born in the country French.
    I am finding your tendency to attribute likely negative characteristics based upon ethnicity to be racist and offensive.

    The unfortunate victims of the fires on the other hand were immigrants, hence their tendency to be living in these hostel type accomodations, as opposed to those raised in the suburbs since they were born.
    And it is the result of dealing with state racism and mistreatment from the police since the day they are born which has caused the anger to overspill.

    You never asnwered my question about the new crusade by the Christian rabble in Belfast BTW.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s mostly north Africans involved in the violence,

    Niggers it is, then. Why pretend you are doing anything other than dressing up race hate in fancy language ?

    Your Hitlerian race theories, sitting as they do alongside your false pieties about saving oppressed people from dictators, are a shameful and sickening disgrace.

  • foreign correspondent

    TAFKABO, do you know of any good politics discussions forums in France? I´d like to know what French people are saying about what´s happening. I have looked at Libe´s forum, mais c´est assez nul.
    6 County Prod, do you really think that some French Moslem youths would have respected the French state more and felt less disposed to riot if Chirac had backed Bush in the Iraq war? If so, you are well deluded…

  • Harry Flashman

    TAFKABO and Stalin,no no no! I am sick of this ‘racist’ argument which is flung around when anyone dares to challenge the fallacies of cosy multiculturalism, it will not do. Challenge the argument with facts don’t just shout ‘racist!’ those days are over. As far as I can see 6countyprod specifically denied his argument is based on race but does base it on religion, last time I checked Islam was not a race.

    It is perfectly in order to point out the religious make up of rioters, in fact TAFKABO, unless I am very much mistaken that is PRECISELY what happens when there’s rioting in Belfast. There is a video on the net right now, Ill find the link later, showing the rioting French ‘youths’ shouting “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”, one is quoted as saying how Paris will be the new Baghdad, furthermore they have petrol bombed a couple of synagogues (quelle surprise) no mosque has as yet been attacked. Now you can ignore the elephant in the corner if you wish but howls of “racist!” just ain’t gonna cut it no more. By the way did you notice the riot in Birmingham last month, you know the small matter of ‘Asians’ versus ‘West Indians’ according to the BBC, ain’t it funny how they fail to mention that the guy who was killed was hacked to death by a group of “assailants” who just happened to pick him out as he returned home from church, hmmmmmmm, no religious factor here folks, nothing to see move along.

    There are a vast number of immigrants and descendants of immigrants in France, from Indo china and subsaharan Africa who are presumably subject to the same discrimination as the ‘youths’ but curiously they don’t feel the need to riot why do you think that is?

    So call us racists all you want, it no longer has the chill factor it once had due to overuse. We’ll call it as we sees it and we sees Muslims rioting, not ‘youths’ nor ‘immigrants’ but Muslims if you choose to ignore that simple fact then by all means do so but don’t be surprised by the consequences of your sticking your heads in the sand, by the time you pull them out it may be just in time to see the knife slicing it off.

  • foreign correspondent

    And I´m sick of racist idiots saying that the racist argument won´t wash any more, because they don´t want to be prevented from giving full vent to their hysterical, frightened discourse.

  • Mick Fealty

    Before this argument descends into an unholy emotive mess, it might be useful to avert to this article, which outlines the arguments in David Goodhart’s essay on the progressive dilemma.

    I’m not suggesting it’s comprehensive or even correct, but it questions society’s ability to handle cultural diversity and remain coherent enough to provide for the public goods the west has become accustomed to drawing upon. And it is not from hysterical.

  • mnob

    When the dust settles the result will be that pure globalisation is dead. Only the good old US will hold those ideals to be true. First Asia then South America and now its happening in Europe. Nothing to do with race or class just an idea that got out of hand.

  • 6countyprod

    Comrade and Tafkabo,

    You lose! (per Yer man’s Rule. But maybe that rule applies only if you call someone a fascist.)

    I remain to be convinced that most, if not all the violence in France this past two weeks is not being carried out by followers of a certain person whose name starts with ‘M’. (How’s that for ambiguity. Could be Moses, or McGuinness, but let’s not get too specific.)

  • Jo

    I remember my French teacher at school describing the horrible buildings which were being built at that time on the outskirts of Paris and other large cities – how no-one wanted them, how they were going to to be factories producing problems for decades to come. She was right.

    Insofar as certain western attitudes have been interpreted, calling these riots an “intafada”, making references to the relgion of the rioters
    (as if truly religious people would destroy in the way that has been done?) what is revealed in the fright and hysteria of the Right is exactly the sort of attitude, which if manifest in day to day treatment of Muslims, would inevitable result in suspicion and frustration and ultimately violence.

    Look at how a 100 yard diversion was seen as such a cultural “threat” justifying violence in Whiterock – certain posters here blamed the police, Hain, the NIO and the Belfast Telegraph.

    How much more frustration would be produced by decades of racist attitudes – whuich exists howver much posters engage in cynical denial?.

    People dont riot because of their religious outlook, they riot because of how they have been treated.

  • 6countyprod

    Jo, are you saying that, because of how they have been treated, the rioters have a genuine excuse for their behaviour?

  • Harry Flashman

    Foreign Correspondent I’ve no idea what you’re blathering about but I’m guessing you’re still confused about the concept of Islam being a religion and not a race. It’s quite simple I see a major global problem with a particularly virulent form of Islamic fundamentalism which is as near fascism as makes no difference. I feel at liberty to attack this Islamofascism without fear of being labelled a racist because despite the media fixation on the US ‘war on terror’ the fact remains that the main victims of this fascism are poor black and brown skinned people living in third world countries, be they black Africans in Darfur and Nigeria, Coptic Christians in Egypt, Thai buddhists in Southern Thailand, Hindus in India or Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia. Whatever hang ups about Haliburton and GWB that the bien pensant pointy heads might have is not going to change these facts, calling people who state these facts racists isn’t going to change them either.

    Now we are being led to believe that what’s happening in France is merely an upswelling of anger at unfair treatment by poor French people of many races and creeds, right? Wrong! Read the reports, the rioters are called Kemal and Mohammed and Abdel, not Pierre or Moses or Nguyen, they are attacking churches, church run schools and synagogues, they seem to leave mosques alone which indicates a certain lack of ecumenical spirit.The only death so far is of a elderly white French Christian.

    If despite all this you still delude yourself that it is merely to do with poverty and an attack on Sarkozy’s policies (gee, Sarkozy’s mother was a what? A jew eh? Hmmm, that can’t have anything to do with the hostility towards him can it?) then be my guest but those of us whose critical and analytical faculties have not been totally atrophied by decades of brainwashing by Academia, the BBC, the Guardian and the Irish Times can still see what’s staring us right in our freakin’ faces.

    For what it’s worth and it’s nobody’s damn business, but before you charge me as being a racistyou might want to know that my wife and son are both Asian Muslims, did that shock you out of your comfortable Jordanstown Polytechnic Students Union circa 1983 mindset? Doesn’t quite fit in with your facile stereotyping, does it? It is because I love my family so much that I am so damned adamant that militant Islamofascism must be confronted wherever it rears its nasty head. If more European Christians had done the same thing seventy years ago we mightn’t have had the trouble we had then.

  • Jo

    Harry:
    One might therefore have assumed, from your intimate family connections, that you would be able to distinguish between Islam and Islamofascism, the latter terms being used indiscriminately for any Muslim person who dares return a stare. I dont know whether to feel sorrirer for your family or you…

  • Jo

    6Co: I don’t believe its an intafada.

    If a Muslim lifts a stone, its an act of war against the West, apparently. If a woman wears a particular type of dress in public, its an expression of her “hatred”, apparently.

    I simply observe these things and these perceptions of Muslims – and try to stop myself from throwing up.

  • Mick Fealty
  • Mark

    I don’t know much about France but problems of integration are not only the fault of immigrant communities. In Germany, for instance, if neither of your parents are German citizens, it is almost impossible to become one yourself – so you have the ludicrous situation of people of Turkish descent who were born in Germany and both of whose parents were born in Germany but can never become German citizens. In France, I understand that the officially accepted definition of ‘egalite’ precludes any kind of affirmative action to make the state apparatus more representative of, responsive to the needs of and acceptable to minority communities, as is currently being attempted with our own police force.

  • TAFKABO

    OK.

    Lets look at it from another angle.

    On what basis does anyone claim that these are Islamic inspired troubles?

    Where are the statistics for the religious make up of those rioting?
    How can a crowd of rioters with at least 40% non moslem be considered part of an intifada?

    ( the 40% is a guesstimate on my part, if you want to refute it, then feel free to provide statistics )

    This violence has spread, and it is simply impossible to argue that it has only spread to areas of high moslem concentration.

    Why are the fatwas against the violence being discounted by people arguing that this is an islamic phenomenon?
    Every riot on the Falls road involves an almost one hundred percent catholic group, can we assume they must be rioting as a direct result of their religion?, the same can be said for the Shankill and protestants.

    If we don’t use the religion of these groups as a factor in the violence, then why is it used for predominantly moslem groups where no evidence exists of religion being a motivating factor?

    Harry Flashman

    Having moslem relatives is not more a guarantee or proof that you are not anti moslem than having catholic or protestant relatives is a guarantee of non sectarinism.
    I’ll make the judgement based upon how you act and what you say, not who you are related to, if you don’t mind.

  • 6countyprod

    Tafkabo: ‘I get tired of people walking on eggshels around most moslems as if they are liable to go crazy the moment they are offended.’ ‘Why are the fatwas against the violence being discounted…?’

    I suppose it depends on who issues the fatwa. A fatwa has been issued against Bin Laden and his side kicks by some Muslim groups, but it has had no effect.

    However, Salman Rushdie and Van Gogh didn’t walk on eggshells, and they know all about the validity of the fatwa.

  • Mick Fealty

    TAF and others,

    Ball please!! Harry’s background should not come into this discussion. The fact that he has felt compelled to call it into his defence is an indication that this is less to do what’s happening in France and elsewhere than here on Slugger.

    Now, leave the man alone and play the ball!

  • Jo

    “I am so damned adamant that militant Islamofascism must be confronted wherever it rears its nasty head. If more European Christians had done the same thing seventy years ago we mightn’t have had the trouble we had then.”

    …excuse me, but wasnt there a form of distinctively non-Islamic fascism around and about seventy years ago? Even my redbrick University background didnt prevent me remembering that?

  • 6countyprod

    Now that Prince Charles has gained some wisdom from the people who have helped free 50 million Muslims from tyranny, he should call in at Chez Jacques and inform him on how the Anglo-Saxons deal with Islamic extremists.

    The current French model for freedom and equality, and law and order, certainly isn’t working.

  • TAFKABO

    6countyprod

    I’d say that when compared to other models, the French one works pretty well indeed.
    Like all systems, it has it’s faults,.Having said that, I’m not entirely convinced that this present situation is necessarily a bad thing.
    Sometimes things need to be shaken up, just to see what develops.I’m sure France will come out the other end of this mini crisis a better place.

    Vive la République !

  • 6countyprod

    My favourite quote, so far, in this ignominious French ‘mini crisis’: M le Maire (of Evreux), Jean-Louis Debré: Well, they don’t form part of our universe.

    So much for the much-lauded French integrationist approach.

    Mr Steyn is on sparkling form at the Telegraph, and a real zinger from the New York Post: French abuse of Arab and African minorities.

    This story will go on, and on. Curfew, State of Emergency. What next pour La Gloire de France?

  • TAFKABO

    It’s nice to see you post links which say pretty much the same thing as I and others have been saying since the beginning of the thread, namely that this trouble is the result of inequalities within the system, and not because of militant Islam.

    Welcome aboard the reality bus.

  • 6countyprod

    Just shows how open minded I am, Tafkabo.

    When you can bring yourself to acknowledge that most of the rioters are (albeit, disenchanted) Muslims, you can hope on too.

  • 6countyprod

    Whoops!

    When you can bring yourself to acknowledge that most of the rioters are Muslims (albeit, disenchanted), you, too, can hop on!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I seldom agree with TAFKBO but on this one he’s unquestionably right on all counts. 6countyprod, the USA helped sustain Hussein’s regime for ten years before it “liberated” (if you could call it that, with thousands dead since the invasion) the place. Iraqis do not regard the US as liberators. The war was not about liberation, it was about the removal of a WMD threat.

    Your arguments are like those I’d expect from a teenager (maybe you are?). You quote a single French politician, and suggest that he speaks for the French nation’s integrationist approach.

    how the Anglo-Saxons deal with Islamic extremists.

    How is that, by dropping daisycutters on them from above ?

    You don’t have much further to go before you are at the point of saying that Islamic extremism requires a “final solution” – it is the logic implied by your language. You are seeking to dehumanize a clearly very unhappy group of people by lumping them together under a banner of militant extremism. It isn’t Godwin’s law to point this out – you are saying the same things about Muslims that were said about Jews during the 1920s and 30s in many parts of Europe. Despite the fact that the Muslim organizations have all issued religious edicts banning those who say they practice Islam from rioting or destroying property; despite the fact that many people from these communities have rallied and marched to call on the rioters to stop, you continue to persist with the view that this violence is inspired by the hate-flavour-of-the-day religion. What is it about Islam that you dislike so much ?

    Let’s try to get a reality check here. Religion is nothing to do with this. What we are seeing in France has happened throughout the world, throughout history. People who perceive themselves to be part of a group who have been shat on, rightly or wrongly, will decide that they have nothing to lose. The outcome is anywhere between minor street skirmishes and full-scale civil war. It has happened all through history including at various points in the history of the USA, and of course the UK and Ireland, as well as France. At different times, different people will perceive themselves to have been shat on. In Northern Ireland, everyone thinks they’ve been shat on by themmuns.

    The solution to this problem irrespective of where it occurs is not oppression or concentration camps as some people seem to be at the point of suggesting. The perception of oppression needs to be addressed (as it was done to a certain extent successfully in the USA in the 1960s, and as it has been in Northern Ireland) and the hardline extremists dealt with firmly but fairly. Get the balance wrong, and you’ll have a civil war.

    BTW Mick, I respect your point of view and will observe your request, but “harry” chose to argue by qualification, rather than by the force of the available facts. I’d normally say that people who do so deserve whatever response they get.

  • Comrade Stalin

    the rioters are (albeit, disenchanted) Muslims, you can hope on too.

    explain why you think it matters if the rioters are Muslim, or if they are Sagittarius, or if they are vegetarians, or if they occasionally listen to classical music ?

    Why in your world does the supposed personal religious practice of people matter ?

  • J McConnell

    TAFKABO

    But by this stage whether the riots are Islamic inspired or not are all rather academic.

    All the other 90% see is mostly muslim gangs burning down schools, setting fire to buses, setting handicapped women on fire, and beating people to death. This is nothing like ’68 or ’48, or even ’61, events are starting to spiral out of control toward a situation more like ’71 and the comunards. And we know how that ended…

    There is an very ugly mood abroad in France, on both sides, which is not helped by the heavy handed censorship and suppression of news by the French media. This censorship is not fooling anyone. People see what is reported by the media and then compare with what they are seeing in their own city and department. The media reports limited attacks, people see widespread anarchy. You know things are bad when a PS mayor goes on national radio begging for the army to be sent in.

    What the voyou forget is that although they may have French citizenship by birth almost all of them have magrebian citizenships by descent and that the French government will use this loophole to expel them if necessary. France does not have a history of coming up with subtle and humane solutions to difficult political problems.

  • TAFKABO

    When you can bring yourself to acknowledge that most of the rioters are (albeit, disenchanted) Muslims, you can hope on too.

    6countyprod.

    Have you been reading my posts?
    Where have I argued that the initial riots were not predominantly made up of people who were, at least nominaly, moslem?

    My contention from the start was not that people weren’t moslem, but that the iots weren’t moslem, and by that I mean they were not as a result of Islamic inspired militancy.
    You seemed to imply in your intial posts that they were, a view from which you now appear to be backtracking.

    But by this stage whether the riots are Islamic inspired or not are all rather academic.

    J Mconnell

    Now that the damage has been done, I guess you are probably correct.

    There is an very ugly mood abroad in France, on both sides, which is not helped by the heavy handed censorship and suppression of news by the French media. This censorship is not fooling anyone. People see what is reported by the media and then compare with what they are seeing in their own city and department. The media reports limited attacks, people see widespread anarchy. You know things are bad when a PS mayor goes on national radio begging for the army to be sent in.

    Which media is reporting limited attacks?, certainly not the channels I listen to.
    And the people calling for the army to be sent in are largely rightwing politicians who have few, if any of the poorest in their areas to begin with.
    Take Sarkozy for instance, the law requires him as mayor of his city to provide a certain amount of housing for the poorest people, but he openly defies the law.Keeping the “riff raff” out of his locality, and then demands that those he keeps out respect the law.

    What the voyou forget is that although they may have French citizenship by birth almost all of them have magrebian citizenships by descent

    Who is “them” that you talk about? do you have statistics or a source for your claims?

    and that the French government will use this loophole to expel them if necessary. France does not have a history of coming up with subtle and humane solutions to difficult political problems.

    It’s exactly this level of hysteria and political posturing that engendered this situation in the first place.
    The French government will do no such thing, it will try and reach an understanding with those rioting, or at least the leaders of the communities from where the rioters hail.

  • J McConnell

    TAFKABO

    > Which media is reporting limited attacks?,
    > certainly not the channels I listen to.

    The national and regional media for starters.

    I’ll give you an example. TF1 and the other nationals report minor problems in Britany, in Rennes and Nantes. I look in ouest-france and I find that there is trouble in Rennes, Nantes, Brest, Saint-Brieuc and several other other cities. Then I talk to someone in Finistère this evening and discover that there are problems in Quimper, Lorient and a bunch of other small towns.

    If thats they story in department like Finistère, of all places, then what must it be like in the real hard core areas.

    > And the people calling for the army to be sent
    > in are largely rightwing politicians who have
    > few, if any of the poorest in their areas to begin with.

    The mayor I was referring to was Michel Pajon, the PS (Socialist) mayor of Noisy-le-Grand. He made his request on a France Culture news program yesterday morning..

    I quote

    “Send in the army? I do not know, for a socialist to say that the army has to intervene is an inconceivable admission of defeat, but what I can say is that one cannot abandon the people like this. At some point we need to know whether this country still has a state.”

    I would not consider a PS depute as some right wing politician.

    > Who is “them” that you talk about? do you have statistics
    > or a source for your claims?

    Of course not. The French government refuse to collect such statistics. I am extrapolating from county of origin for French immigrants over the last forty years, and from what little I have seen of real footage of the rioting. So far the only real footage I’ve seen was on a québécoise CBC current affair show out of Montreal. Even the raw newsfeeds out of Reuters have been a bust.

    > The French government will do no such thing,
    > it will try and reach an understanding with those rioting,
    > or at least the leaders of the communities from where the rioters hail.

    Short term, maybe to buy some time, but long term? I dont think so. The 4’th republic started and ended with large scale bloodshed, and it certainly looks like the 5’th will follow the same path, started with a civil war barely averted, and is now entering the end game with wide scale chronic civil unrest.

  • TAFKABO

    J McConnell.

    I’ll have to check the story about Michael pajon, but it’s the first time I have heard of him requesting the army be sent in, and I have yet to see the situation so bad that all the police are being overstretched.
    Yesterday De Villepin said that the police were still in a position to handle the situation, which does not suggest trouble on the scale your assumptions suggest.

    I’m not even going to bother replying to an assertion that the rioters were mostly Magrebian based upon something you saw on one report.

    As for your other points, again you are taking what one person in Finistére said and extroplating, which is never the best basis for making an argument.

    And as for your conclusions about what France is liely to do in the long run, it’s a non starter.

    Why?

    Well because France like the UK is facing a real crisis unless it can find a way to increase the number of working age people to keep funding the pensions juggernaut that is heading our way in a decade or so.

    What’s the best and easist solution?

    Immigrants with their traditionally large families.
    People will be thinking ways of bringing more immigrants into rich western countries, not getting rid of them.

  • 6countyprod

    Tafkabo and Comrade,

    I have been learning a lot about France over the past few days. Thank you for your perspectives and thoughts. That is what I like about Slugger. One gets a different take on things from ‘the other side’. I am just sorry that you feel you have to resort to mud-slinging and name-calling to make a point.

    Things have moved on, and the causes of the violence seem to be a little clearer. But we are not out of the woods yet. God forbid that this will turn into a European Intifada.

    Tafkabo, you initially said that 40% of the rioters were Muslim (7/11 1050pm, 8/11 12.33pm). Now you ask me: Where have I argued that the initial riots were not predominantly made up of people who were, at least nominaly, moslem? That’s progress.

    I have also come to recognize that my initial impressions were flawed in that I thought the whole thing was being orchestrated by extremists. Maybe it was/is, maybe it isn’t. Let’s just hope the French authorities can get a handle on this thing before it gets completely out of control.

    An editorial in Le Figaro seems to make some sense:

    “France is paying for its arrogance. In the eyes of the world, our famous model of social integration is going down the drain… Vengeance is a dish best served cold. America will never forget the criticisms of its society during the Iraq war and after the hurricane in Louisiana.
    “But their criticism is not entirely unjustified. It underlines 40 years of political failure… Too often, ideology has trumped pragmatism in dealing with the problems of the suburbs. Plans to rebuild and renovate have not been followed up with money. In particular, it is misguided to think that tweaking around the edges would give pride and hope to the descendants of French immigrants, who have too often been soothed by speeches presenting them as victims rather than responsible citizens…

    “Is Islam at the heart of the current violence? Not as far as one can tell. The solution seems to lie in reaffirming everyone’s rights and responsibilities.”

  • J McConnell

    TAFKABO

    Here is some more Pajon quotes from France Culture

    “Women have been made to stop on the streets of my town. They were dragged from their cars by their hair, they were practically stoned and their cars were set ablaze… ”

    or how about

    ” My town has a psychiatric hospital which has been attacked with molotov cocktails.”

    Again this is a PS depute speaking…

    > As for your other points, again you are taking what one person in Finistére said and
    > extroplating, which is never the best basis for making an argument.

    I dont know how long you have been in France, or how well you know the country, but as someone who has known France for more than twenty years, has family there, and spends part of the year there, I think it is a very reasonable line of argument to infer from what is going on in a part of France I know very well, and knowing how the institutions of France really work, to infer just how widespread the disturbances really are.

    > And as for your conclusions about what France is liely to do in the long run, it’s a non starter.

    You obviously know little or no French history. The relative political stability of the last thirty five years is an aberration in French history since the revolution Find a good book on the last years of the 4’th republic to give yourself a better feel of what normal French politics is like, and what future 5’th republic politics are going to be like. It aint pretty.

    France is a very brittle country, with very fragile political institutions above the mairie/prefect level. It is ill at ease with itself, and has been for quite some time. France does change badly, very badly, and the French know it.

  • 6countyprod

    A thoughtful analysis from an American expatriate living in France.

  • Comrade Stalin

    6countyprod, I have to admit I didn’t expect you to respond like that 🙂 I’ll go and meditate for a while before adding any more.

    The last number of posts on the thread have indeed been very constructive and informative. I agree, this is where blogs like this really come into their own.

  • TAFKABO

    Tafkabo, you initially said that 40% of the rioters were Muslim (7/11 1050pm, 8/11 12.33pm). Now you ask me: Where have I argued that the initial riots were not predominantly made up of people who were, at least nominaly, moslem? That’s progress.

    That’s an unfair distortion of what I said, which was I’d be surprised if the number of those rioting was 99% moslem.There are no official statistics, but I’d guess 40-60% moslme at most.

  • TAFKABO

    J mcConnell.

    Sorry, I ought to clarify that I am not disputing that terrible things happen in riot situations, and that often the weakest and most vulnerable are targetted.
    I’m disputing the scale on which it is happening.
    Offering me examples does not change my mind on that score, unless you can offer me a couple of thousands examples of women being dragged from cars and stoned.

    As for the general point that a left wing politician made a strong statement and called for action, I accept this, but still would argue that the greater number of calls for strong action arefrom right wing politicans,and are motivated by more than concern for the situation.

    I dont know how long you have been in France, or how well you know the country, but as someone who has known France for more than twenty years, has family there, and spends part of the year there, I think it is a very reasonable line of argument to infer from what is going on in a part of France I know very well, and knowing how the institutions of France really work, to infer just how widespread the disturbances really are.

    Well I have lived here full time for a year, but have been coming here for the best part of five years.Most of my opinions are taken from converstaions I have with my friends and family here in the very suburbs where it all started.Not to mention the undeniable fact that I am sitting here right now and I am not feeling the slightest bit worried that the rampaging hordes are about to break down the door.Nor can I hear the sounds of civil disturbance I have heard so often back in Belfast.

    You obviously know little or no French history. The relative political stability of the last thirty five years is an aberration in French history since the revolution Find a good book on the last years of the 4’th republic to give yourself a better feel of what normal French politics is like, and what future 5’th republic politics are going to be like. It aint pretty.

    Using the same logic I could argue that the relative political stability of Europe since the last great war is just as much an aberration, and therefore, impending doom is just around the corner.But there are good resons for believeing this is not the case,and I humbly suggest that the same reasons are applicable to Frances immediate future.

    France is a very brittle country, with very fragile political institutions above the mairie/prefect level. It is ill at ease with itself, and has been for quite some time. France does change badly, very badly, and the French know it.

    I don’t think I am in disagreement with you on this one, other than our ideas of “very badly” probably differ in scale.

  • TAFKABO

    With a mind to Godwins law and earlier accusations of racism by myself and others.

    It has struck me that we have a rather curious anomaly whereby people are happy to label a group of people Moslem or Islamic troublemakers, or more prone to cause trouble, where they would not use the ethnicity of the persons involved, for fear of being labelled racists.

    And yet, were they to apply similar terminology to a riot in Northern Ireland by labelling people protestant or catholic troublemakers, or more prone to cuse trouble, based upon their religious background they would immediately be condemned as sectarian bigots.

    There are a couple of issues it might be worth exploring.

    Is sectarianism less offensive that racism?, and is sectarianism less offensive when it is anti islamic sectarianism?

  • 6countyprod

    Tafkabo, this doesn’t quite address your question, but it has an interesting take on what racism is.

    http://www.yaf.org/press/club100_columnists/Ibrahim/ibrahim_11_30_05.htm