As has been reported, the immediate cause of the outbreak of violence has been the death of two Arab boys in one of Paris suburbs – Clichy-sous-Bois. Relatives of the dead boys say they were fleeing police and hid themselves in a power substation where they got accidentally electrocuted. The police refute the story, but nobody seems to care any longer about the details.
One has the impression that when the riots began the local police and gendarmerie limited themselves, by and large, to observing and registering the cases of youths setting fire to cars, schools, offices and shops, accompanied by pogroms and attacks on people. Authorities cannot cope with mobile youth gangs rampaging practically unpunished and unhindered across the whole of France. Police have no information about the leaders of the riots, their whereabouts or plans.
Moreover, the socialist mayors of a number of cities and the local liberal press are trying, to all intents and purposes, to find excuses for and nearly support the rioters ("the insulted and the humiliated of our society"). The main culprit seems to be the French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been blamed not for his inability to stop the riots, but for making "insulting and provocative pronouncements" against the raging youths.
It took French President Jacques Chirac all of ten days to express his opinion of the riots and say that the country "would not bend in the face of the disorders" spreading to new regions populated by immigrants from African and Arab countries. The President threatened the law-breakers with arrests, prosecution and severe punishment. But for all that, in order to turn down the heat of the situation, what is needed, he said, was "respect for everybody, justice and equal opportunity".
For his turn, French premier Dominique de Villepin personally visited some regions of unrest where he tried to cool down the flare of passions. The premier also met with rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris Dalil Boubakeur and other prominent figures of the French Islamic community. However, soon things got worse with the police coming under gun fire.
Observers note that the rioters, as distinct from the police and authorities, are well-organized and their actions seem to be coordinated from a single center. Someone is giving instructions to the youths, setting tasks for them, pointing the targets to be attacked and handing out metal bars and Molotov cocktail bottles. To guide the pogroms, achievements of the Western civilization – the Internet and the means of mobile communication – have been widely used. It has also been noted that a kind of moral and ideological support for the rioters has been provided by many mosques and the radical press. Some observers do not rule out that behind the escalation of the rioting were radical Islamists.
The events in France have given a new occasion to speak about the crisis of the Western liberal ideology, social model and immigration policies, which became evident already in the terrorist attacks in Great Britain last summer. In France, as well as in Great Britain, the ruling class has long been staking on the multi-cultural social model, but that model, unfortunately, is no guarantee of cultural and psychological assimilation of immigrants into the traditional social setup of their new home country, nor their equitable integration into the general mass of the population.
As a result, veritable ghettos inhabited by Arabs and Africans with their own isolated culture, morals and customs have sprung up in Western European countries. If you throw in the high level of unemployment, poverty, social ill-being and ethnic organized crime, you get a highly explosive mixture. In France, where almost 10 percent of the population is Moslem, the negative processes have acquired especially large proportions. The French integration model has failed to make France's seven million inhabitants of Arab and African origin a part of the country's population base.
For decades French authorities have been droning on about integration and assimilation and setting off their immigration policies against the "less effective" US model. French liberals missed no opportunity to condemn Russia's policy in Chechnya and express their solidarity with the "Chechen freedom fighters". In the meantime, Islamic radicalism was rapidly gaining momentum in the tense poverty-stricken ghettos of French cities, with most young people there being attracted by it.
As a result, a big, modern, developed European state with a powerful army and police force turned out to be absolutely unprepared for an internal aggression that has for long been ripening under the authorities' very nose. Unprepared as well turned out to be French society itself where burghers brought up for generations on the principles of individualism and social apathy have become immune to all idea of self-organization, not even for the purpose of self-protection. The times of the brave French hero-citizen once personified on the screen by the world-famous Alain Delon seem, alas, to have long gone by.
One has the impression that the modern bourgeois state based on the firm belief in the absence of any alternative to the liberal-democratic idea simply has no recipe for adequately reacting to outbreaks of internal ethnic and religious aggression. And any politician who dares to suggest regulating the migration processes or quenching the disorders by force is risking to be immediately accused of "totalitarianism" or even "fascism".
If such approaches persist, France, like other countries of Western Europe, seems to have even harder trials in store, under which the current liberal-democratic social model may finally give way.