Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Riots In France

Rosemary did a great post below called "Europe on Fire". Here is my take on the situation (maybe Xav will call me a "typical naive stupid USAmerican" too).

President Jacques Chirac declared a state of emergency Tuesday, paving the way for curfews to be imposed on riot-hit cities and towns in an extraordinary measure to halt France’s worst civil unrest in decades after 12 nights of violence.

Police, meanwhile, said overnight unrest Monday-Tuesday, while still widespread and destructive, was not as violent as previous nights.

"The intensity of this violence is on the way down," National Police Chief Michel Gaudin said, citing fewer attacks on public buildings and fewer direct clashes between youths and police. He said rioting was reported in 226 towns across France, compared to nearly 300 the night before.

Good. That brings the total of vehicles burned to about 6,000. The rioters have also been burning public buildings, factories ... just about anything they can set a match to. It will be good to see this madness stop.

Much of the rioting has occurred in areas heavily populated by poor African Muslim immigrants and their French-born children who are weary of poverty, crime, poor education and unemployment. In some areas, unemployment runs as high as 20%, more than twice the national average, according to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

The unrest has drawn attention to simmering discontent among much of France's Muslim population at an estimated 5 million, Western Europe's largest. Some would say that France is the birthplace of the emerging Eurabia.

A street version of radical Islam permeates the youth culture of the area, where Osama bin Laden is a hero, George Bush and Israel are evil and President Chirac’s State wants to stifle their religion and identity.

But who or what started this?

The violence erupted Oct. 27 as a localized riot in a northeast Paris suburb angry over the accidental deaths of two teenagers, Bouna Traore, 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, of Mauritanian and Tunisian descent, who were accidentally electrocuted while trying to escape from police by hiding in a power substation in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. The two were wanted for questioning involving a break-in. It has grown into a nationwide insurrection by disillusioned suburban youths - all because two people, wanted for questioning, ran and hid from the police and, in their wisdom, did so while standing next to 50,000 volts. I would think most people would be cheering, not rioting.

Officials have said police were not chasing the boys, and the Interior Ministry has released a preliminary report exonerating officers of any direct role in the deaths, according to AP.

While many French leaders depict the rioters as simple criminals, political and social analysts and many French citizens see the fires that are burning across the country as reflecting a growing identity crisis in a nation where social policies have not kept up with rapidly changing profiles in religion, race and ethnicity.

A large percentage are Muslim. Their parents' generation was invited to France as laborers who were expected to return home but didn't. The new generation is coming of age in the midst of France's worst economic slump in years and during a time when many in the country, which is culturally Christian but officially secular.

"The government hasn't really realized we're facing a major political crisis," said Patrick Lozes, a political activist and president of the Circle for the Promotion of Diversity in France. "The French social model is exploding."

Coverage of the riots by major American media has been incomplete. Headlines have referred to "angry French teens" and "angry immigrants." That's misleading. According to a French official, most of these rioters are French born - the children or grandchildren of African and Arab immigrants. The word that is missing in the headlines, and that comes in later paragraphs in news stories, is: Muslim. Hence, the frequent rioters' cry: "Allahu Akbar. God is great." But you'll never read that in The New York Times.

But a New York Times editorial predictably blamed Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy for calling the rioters "scum" and "riff raff." Well, what else would you call a gang of people that are trying to burn down parts of the city? What else would you call people that shoot at the police and firemen?

Liberal commentators, both in France and abroad, tend to say that poverty and unemployment, rather than race or religion, are the driving force behind the riots. But the fact remains that only ethnic youths are rioting, that most of them explicitly pledge allegiance to Islam and such Muslim heroes as Osama bin Laden, that the Islamic motto - Allahu Akbar - is usually their war cry, and that they submit only to archconservative or radical imams. The fact also remains, according to many witnesses, that the rioters torch only "white" cars, meaning white owned cars, and spare "Islamic" or "black" ones - those with ethnic signs like a sticker with Koranic verses or a picture of the Kaaba in Mekka or a stylized map of Africa.

Would it be OK if disenfranchised white French youths in Mecca burned cars with Islamic signs?

And don't give me any sob story about strife being caused because Chirac wouldn't allow headscarves in the schools. Muslim activists also wanted gender-segregated physical-education and history classes expunged of the Holocaust. The Muslim community does not want to merge into the French culture, but rather they want France to merge into a Muslim community.

Islam is by far the chief driving force behind the riots. France has done everything possible to give these monsters every benefit imaginable: free education, free health care, loads of welfare, and access to numerous other socialist programs. It's not France's fault that these rioters refuse to assimilate, refuse to respect French laws and customs, are prone to violence and criminality. And French appeasement is making things worse. Islam is getting a free pass, once again, because it is accepted worldwide that islam is The Religion Of Peace®. Maybe this is the first step in the creation of an autonomous, independent state of "Paristine."

What started all this? How about a bloody-handed caravan raider who invented a murderous, expansive, political ideology disguised as a religion, and began spreading it throughout his neighborhood by fire and the sword ... and for 1300 years, his followers have been carrying on the tradition.

That we see violent gangs and criminals of all sorts attracted to Islam can hardly be surprising when you look at the long history of banditry, piracy and general lawlessness that seem to go hand in hand with this cult. The roots of the criminal behavior within Islam go right back to the actions of the very founder of it.

There, I said it. Sue me.