Rioting in Paris Suburbs: End of Old Europe / News / News agency Inforos
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Rioting in Paris Suburbs: End of Old Europe

Rioting in Paris Suburbs: End of Old Europe
Street disorders continue in the French capital. Already five districts north and east of Paris are gripped by violence. 250 cars were burned during only one night on November 1. Police have made more than 30 arrests. "Minister Sarkozi is provoking Seine-Saint-Denis residents, says one of the detainees. – It has to be stopped. We have solidarity here. The situation may become only worse".

Meanwhile, French premier Dominique de Villepin, speaking before the National Assembly in connection with the riots of Moslem youths in the suburban regions which are in their sixth consecutive day, says that "the French government has been mobilized for fighting the disorders in the Paris suburbs".

"What is taking place is a huge stain which has marked our whole government, and our task is to get rid of it immediately. We shall proceed with this task without delay", says the prime minister.

Actually, the last phrase has been addressed specifically to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozi. The methods for restoring law and order proposed by these two rivals at the forthcoming presidential election differ: the premier sticks to his characteristic diplomacy, while the head of the Interior Ministry stands for tough measures. De Villepin advocates calmness, Sarkozi insists on "fighting". So far neither method has produced any result.

Earlier, addressing Clichy-sous-Bois residents, N. Sarkozy said: "You got fed up with these gangs? Soon we shall rid the place of this scum!" The head of the Interior Ministry, a second-generation Hungarian immigrant, had in mind those who are behind the riots of Moslem youths in Vlichy-sous-Bois and other Paris suburbs. The death of two Arab boys at an electricity sub-station, where they have allegedly been hiding from police, is not a cause but a catalyst of the crisis that has for long been brewing in France.

The youths have been sacking the buildings within their reach that represent the state: fire depots, post offices, city halls. Youths from immigrant Moslem families attack the symbols of power. This opinion was voiced in Paris by minister for problems of integration and equal opportunities Azuz Begague, politician close to premier Dominique de Vullepin and himself coming from the concrete slums of Paris suburbs. That is where jobless immigrants are concentrated. Everyday life is controlled here not by official authorities, but by Islamist bosses and drug dealers. Their fighting squads are manned by frustrated and restless youths, whose favorite amusement is setting cars ablaze. Last year teenagers damaged 2,500 cars.

A suburban woman says: "They burn cars of innocent people. Of course, they must be stopped! This all comes from the shortage of workplaces and sauntering in the streets. They just have nothing to do. So they gang up and burn cars!"

Most Arab youths never went beyond the limits of the suburbs. What "cultural integration" is that? "French society has to rid itself of hypocrisy, of attempts to smooth over the immense social, economic and cultural problems of such cities as ours", says the Mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois.

Those guilty of the boys' death have to be found. Without that there can be no resuming the dialog between the authorities and the Moslem community of the country. But equally important is to understand why the threat of electric shock in the power sub-station was less frightening to the boys than meeting the guardians of law and order.

The unrest is spreading, and it is already obvious that it is not just organized hooliganism, but a result of a fundamental difference of two cultures. The position of the immigrant ghettos has been aptly described by a Moslem woman dweller: "Leave us alone. Take away the police. We'll make out ourselves!" But that is something that can hardly be accepted by the leadership of one of the most developed and tolerant countries of the European Union.
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