Riots point to racially divided France

Dec 1, 2007, Associated Press:

French officials point to a host of causes — poverty, unemployment, the influence of criminal gangs — for riots that erupted this week.

But there's one taboo issue that officially colorblind France has been unable to confront: race.

The violence, like riots that spread nationwide for three weeks in 2005, exposed how parts of France have divided along color lines, with blacks and Arabs trapped in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods — like Villiers-le-Bel, in the northern suburbs of Paris, where gangs attacked police and burned cars and buildings this week.

"Among the rioters, the very large majority come from immigrant backgrounds," said Douhane Mohamed, a police commander. "Why? We mustn't kid ourselves: there is a direct link between urban violence and ghettos, and the majority of people with immigrant roots live in ghettos."

France does not like to see its recurrent, and some say worsening, bouts of urban violence through the prism of race or color. Rioters are often described simply as "youths," while poor projects with large concentrations of immigrants are "sensitive urban zones."

In the name of equality, France has so idealized the melting pot that it has made its minorities invisible — on paper at least. The country does not compile statistics on the foreign-born or their French-born children. France, a nation of 60 million people, has the largest Muslim community in western Europe but does not know how many Muslims live here. The number is estimated at about 5 million — though some experts disagree.

Critics argue that being officially colorblind has limited France's ability to recognize and treat the difficulties its minorities face — sometimes because of their color. Immigrants and their French-born children often complain that it is harder for them than whites to get work, job interviews, housing, even entrance to nightclubs ...

The rioters are a tiny minority but sullen anger is palpable in Villiers-le-Bel. Black youths complain that police stop and search them because of their color. They speak of exclusion, of not getting a fair shake, of being treated like foreigners in their own country.

Few residents condone the violence and many condemn it — but no one seems surprised that it broke out.

"Everyone is equal. That is what is written. But behind that is something else," said Hassan Ben M'Barek, spokesman for Suburbs Respect, a group that lobbies for those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

In some such areas of the Paris region, "there are no white French people left in the streets. You can drive around for two or three hours and all you will see are North Africans and blacks. And these are neighborhoods with enormous problems," he added. "Those who have the means to leave the projects are white, and they leave. There's no more ethnic diversity."

It was impossible not to see the violence in Villiers-le-Bel in black and white terms.

The hundreds of beefy riot police officers drafted in, some from as far away as France's eastern border with Germany, were almost exclusively white. The neighborhoods they patrolled were largely black and Arab.

The trigger for the rioting was the deaths last Sunday of two teens whose motorcycle crashed with a police car. Lakamy Samoura, 15 and Mohsin Sehhouli, 16, weren't wearing helmets and their bike was not authorized for public roads.

Police insisted the crash was accidental, but kids in the neighborhood didn't believe it. The deaths became an excuse for two nights of rioting in which more than 100 police officers were injured, some by shotgun rounds.

Tellingly, neither of the teens will be buried in France, although both were French. Mohsin's parents are taking his body to Morocco; Lakamy will be buried in Senegal, from where his parents emigrated in 1966.

Having a foot in France and another in Africa is something that Maka Sali, a black 17-year-old in Villiers, identifies with. She said she doesn't like taking trips into Paris — about 20 minutes away on the train — because she doesn't like the way some whites there look at her.

"I feel like a foreigner," she said. She also said it was "just terrible" that it took the deaths of two teens to thrust the issue of France's poor neighborhoods back to the forefront of the national agenda.

The riots of 2005 also started when two teens were killed — electrocuted while hiding in a power substation from police.

Some argue that the recurring violence must make France rethink its taboos ...

Since the violence of 2005, France has earmarked billions of dollars for programs to improve housing and create jobs in tough neighborhoods. The government says that its newest "equal opportunities" program will be unveiled Jan. 22.

But it was hard to see among the burned out cars and blackened moods in Villiers that much has changed.

"The only thing they (the government) have done is build that police station," said Frank Dosso, a black 16-year-old, referring to a $7 million police station under construction in Villiers. "But that's not going to last long."
Photos: Riots hit French suburbs (Yahoo)

Above: Family members of two teenagers who were killed in a collision with a police car in Villiers le Bel leave the Elysee Palace after a meeting with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris November 28, 2007. (Yahoo)

Below: Residents march during a ceremony for teenager Lakamy Samoura who was killed with his friend Mohsin Sehhouli in a motorbike crash with a police car that caused riots, Friday Nov. 30, 2007 in Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris. Some 300 mourners marched through Villiers-le-Bel demanded justice and truth for the dead two teenagers. Vast deployments of riot police restored calm to the troubled suburbs of northern Paris.

This is our future unless African, Arab, and Muslim immigration is stopped. "Everyone is equal ... But behind that is something else". See, diversity fails on the ground. It just means segregation.


Anonymous said...
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Mark Richardson said...

It's already happening on a smaller scale in Melbourne's Housing Commission towers in suburbs like Carlton and Flemington. We've had so far this year carjackings, organised attacks on the police, small-scale riots (e.g. in the Highpoint Shopping Centre), gang murders, and gang muggings (in Parkville).

Abandon Skip said...

Hi Mark, love your website and blog.

Yep, black folk and Housing Commission towers don't seem to mix well. And today there was something on the radio about a black woman/group in Melbourne putting in writing they were devotees of Osama.

I have some articles to catch up on. Andrew Bolt posed the same question in regards to a Noble Park lockdown: do we have a little Paris?

I heard of some trouble in Sydney e.g. in one fight on the main street between black youths and non-blacks it was said "Blacktown is our town now". But nothing on the scale of Melbourne's troubles.

Maybe because there are no highrises in Blacktown, and they pretty much own the town now because they are there in strong numbers. And, given the name, they have a sense of ownership.

Was the gang murder Liep Gony? Or someone else?

We just have to keep highlighting the similarities in the hope that everyone comes to their senses and black African immigration is halted.

Mark Richardson said...

Abandon Skip, thanks.

Yes I was thinking of Liep Gony. There were photos of him in the Melbourne press wearing gang colours and video of him taking part in a mugging on a Melbourne train.

One point of interest: Melbourne's academics won't be able to insulate themselves too easily from African crime. The Carlton and Flemington high rise towers are located close to Melbourne University and many academics live nearby either in Carlton itself or in Parkville.

Colonel Robert Neville said...

Dear AS: Merry Xmas. I very much like your phrase "Diversity fails on the ground". Very apt.

Yes, it's a disaster. Mark Steyn has spoken how multiculturalism is a denial of reality, how it's believing in everything, and this is the same as believing in nothing, where your core values are having no core values.

It's also unicultural, as ONLY Western countries do it.

A range of peopleis good, a range of permanently seperate people is very bad.

My wife is Japanese, but Japanese share many if not most of our core beliefs and values, from rational thought, modernity, cohesion and so on.

The Japanese have not suffered at all from having zero immigration and no multiculturalism.

On the contrary, much crime and difficulty is connected quite disproportionately to the Chinese, Koreans, Africans and so on that do live in Japan.

See the classic and standard MSM reporting on the Sydney Muslim school protest?

There's no journalistic standard that accuses people of racism sans evidence and that Islam is a religion, not a race. The reporter neglected to mention the particular race that was suposedly the subject of a decidedly bogus "racism".

Anyone who objects to Islam and prefers their own culture, is called a racist, especially if they're white. Hindu's among others, ain't too crazy about Islam either.

Colonel Neville.