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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Topic: Breaking News

News, Not Commentary: Just In From Paris
Instead of commentary, news, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, an account of the situation on the ground there today.
Curfew Starts

PARIS - Tuesday, 8 November -

After a 12th night of urban turmoil the Council of Ministers met today and decided to instruct préfets to apply curfews if they think they are necessary.

On Monday President Jacques Chirac judged that such a move was necessary in order to 'speed up the return to calm.' The Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, announced the decision to declare a state of emergency last night on TF1 TV-news, saying that the violence was 'inexcusable and unacceptable.'

Residents of France showed their concern with an audience score of an estimated 13 million viewers for the newscast.

The curfew law dates from 1955 and has only been used twice in the past 50 years. How it is to function was explained by the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. In zones defined by a second decree, pr?fets will have authority to impose measures necessary to maintain order.

Where defined, curfews could go into effect at midnight tonight, and can continue for 11 days, until the law must be re-voted.

Police will also be able to make searches for arms without specific warrants during the 11-day period. Violation of the curfew could result in a two-month term in jail.

Monday night's violence lessened slightly from the levels reached on the weekend. A youth in Toulouse had a hand blown off by a tear-gas grenade fired by police. In all, 226 communes all over France were touched by violence last night, while 10,200 police officers effected the arrests of 330 suspected rioters.

In Paris, other than the relatively minor incidents of a few days ago, the nights are as quiet as they usually are. The nightly scenes of arson and mayhem shown on TV-news are not being witnessed first-hand by the city's residents and visitors.


Today on rue des Rennes

The front page of Le Monde -

Text and Photos Copyright © 2005 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Editor's Notes

BBC summary of the curfew law, in English:

- Cabinet can declare state of emergency in all or part of the country
- Regional leaders given exceptional powers to apply curfew and restrict movements
- Breach of curfew could mean a fine or two-month jail sentence
- Police can carry out raids on suspected weapons stockpiles
- Interior minister can issue house-arrest warrants for persons considered dangerous to public safety
- Public meeting places can be closed down
- House searches possible day or night
- Authorities can control press or broadcast media, film and theatre performances
- State of emergency can only be extended beyond 12 days if approved by parliament

TF1 streaming video - if you have a high-speed connection, watch the early afternoon or the evening news show from TF1 in Paris each day here, in French, no subtitles. The link to the broadcast is on the upper right of the page.


See John Lichfield in The Independent (UK), 07 November 2005 No intifada, no cause, just poor kids defending their territory - he's their Paris reporter.

Or see Melanie Phillips here -
The disturbances are thus being portrayed as race riots caused by official discrimination and insensitivity. But this is a gross misreading of the situation. It is far more profound and intractable. What we are seeing is, in effect, a French intifada: an uprising by French Muslims against the state.

When the police tried to take back the streets, they were driven out with the demand that they leave what the protesters called the 'occupied territories'. And far from the claim that the disturbances have been caused by French policy of segregating Muslims into ghettoes, this is a war being waged for separate development.

Some Muslims have even called for the introduction of the ancient Ottoman 'millet' system of autonomous development for different communities.
See also this -
What is exciting about the present riots is:

a) that they are genuinely political and, so far as I can see, legitimate: the inhabitants of these suburbs are burning their own cars, schools and possessions (and not, so far, people) because they (rightly) believe them to be emblematic of all that their situations trap them to: crime, joblessness, helplessness, voicelessness, boredom, alienation and the awful horror of grotesque concrete tower-blocks. They are political in Plato's sense: of ceasing to fight for space within a pre-existing and deviant order, and instead going to the outside and forcing that order to reform.

b) they are well organised: the targets are apposite, and discipline among the activists remarkably strong (witness 5000 car burnings and just one or two isolated, and possibly unconnected, personal attacks).

c) they are going to continue, one suspects, for as long as the political establishment presumes to deliberately and systematically misunderstand why they are occurring. At the moment, the governmental call is for 'above all, the return of good order'; scant mention is yet to be made of even the possibility of making some effort to correct the absurd embedded racism of France's so-called meritocratic power-structures, whose professed egalitarian ethic could not be further from practical truth. Headlines moronically blurt out: 'how long will this go on?' as if it is the temper tantrum of an infant, not the organised scream for help of an entire and dismembered portion of society. Senior ministers have been threatening longer jail-terms of all things, in blackly comic, American justice style.

d) the immigrants may soon be joined in the pillage by a host of left-wing organisations. Since the riots of 1968 made the error of not going far enough and thus resulting in minimal long-term change, there is implicit consensus that for this action to be justified it must be pursued to its natural extreme: all-out civil disobedience, until the government falls. While official opinion seems to be that this political activity will quickly run its course, there is evidence that it is steadily mounting and indeed heading from outside the city into the centre. I have noticed in my very central quartile here that there has been a steady and ominous thickening on street corners and among shadows of determined looking folk from the banlieues (it reminds me a little of Hitchcock's The Birds). I look forward to their expressing themselves, with appropriate respect for human life, through the media of bonfires and chaos.

So anyhow, this is just to let you know that France is much closer to gaining its sixth republic than anything in the western media is likely to have you think. The unrest may indeed go international (Denmark has already seen the first glimmerings of revolt). I just hope it doesn't lose its focus and political rigour as the coming weeks unfold, for its efficacy relies on the precision of its message: we will no longer tolerate living in a political and economic concentration camp.
Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds? And "a steady and ominous thickening on street corners and among shadows of determined looking folk from the banlieues?"

Well, your editor finally got to New Orleans three years ago for a good visit, and has had his many trips to Paris. Is each gone now?

Posted by Alan at 16:28 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005 16:33 PST home

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