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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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Thursday, 10 November 2005

Topic: Breaking News

Just in From Paris: Calmer, But Not Peace
Today's news from France, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis - an account of the situation on the ground there today, received in Hollywood just after four in the afternoon, well after midnight in Paris.

Calmer, But Not Peace

PARIS - Thursday, 10 November -

Although urban violence decreased again last night the authorities are being cautious as the holiday for Armistice Day approaches on Friday, followed by a weekend, when there might by further demonstrations.

Fewer cars were burned on Wednesday night and a police spokesman said there were 'practically no' battles between police and rioters. All the same a police station, two kindergartens, a school and a city hall were targeted by arsonists.

Another 200 were arrested, which has brought the total since disturbances began, to 2033 arrested. According to reports, Michel Gaudin, General Director of the National Police, stated that a hundred of those arrested were foreigners. Of those arrested, 364 have been convicted. Of these, 73 were minors.

On the political front more voices are being raised against the expulsion order of the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. There are objections that coupling deportation of foreigners to a conviction amounts to a double penalty - a legal situation not supported by French law, and one recently opposed by the same minister of the interior.

In Paris service stations have been forbidden from selling gas in containers, in an effort to halt the confection of Molotov Cocktails. Police say that rumors are flying around the Internet and via SMS telephone messages, suggesting a confrontation with police in Paris.

A group comprising 160 associations has police permission to form a group at 15:00 on Friday, at the 'Wall of Peace' on the Champ de Mars. The Banlieues Respects collective says participants should have visible white handkerchiefs. The demonstration in favor of urban peace will march towards Denfert-Rochereau. Similar parades are scheduled for Toulouse and Lyon on Saturday.

In another incident Nicolas Sarkozy acted quickly to suspend eight police officers filmed by a France-2 TV-news team, showing some of them beating a young man. The film was shown on tonight's TV-news. The incident, which happened on Monday in La Courneuve, is the subject of two investigations.

A spokesman for a police union said there was no excuse for the conduct, but pointed out that after 14 consecutive nights of urban turmoil many police officers are stressed to the limit and tired.

Copyright © 2005 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Editor's Notes:

Pascal Riché is Libération's US reporter. His blog (with Laurent Mauriac) is A l'heure américaine, in French. (It has a cool feature. Double click on any word and an English translation of that word pops up. How did they do that?)

Here he is in English on the riots, a brief item he has cross-posted at TPM Café, home to Josh Marshall and Matthew Yglesias -
Don't believe Fox News. France is not on the verge of a civil war, and what is happening in my country is not a jihad. The riots in the French "banlieues" are nevertheless very serious: they are one of the most serious social crises of the last 60 years. And they signal the death of our century-old "integration model," one of the pillars of the modern French Republic. As the Prime Minister Villepin put it: "We must be lucid: the Republic faces a moment of truth.

The French have always cherished their model of integration, considered as an idealistic and almost mystical process. Its aim was generous: any immigrant, once he or she acquires French citizenship, becomes a citizen absolutely equal to any other. The "République Francaise" would proudly integrate her immigrants without any problems, thanks to her secular schools, her national institutions, her universal values. Regardless of the color of their skin or their religion, they would quickly acquire and embrace French "culture".

For this reason, "diversity", of course, was never encouraged in France. The objective rather was "indivisibility". Immigrants were invited to melt, as quickly as possible, into the French cultural mold. "Affirmative action" - or, even worse, "positive discrimination" - are still are taboo words in France. "Communautarisme" - acting as a community - is a derogatory word in political language. You will never see in France a parade of Vietnamese French or Algerien French walking down the Champs Elysees as you can see Puerto Ricans or Irish celebrating their community on Fifth Avenue. And nobody will ever ask you if you are Black, Caucasian or from North-African ascent.

But during the riots of the past 13 days, Frenchmen have been confronted with the failures of this model, have watched it go up in flames like one of the many torched cars strewn across darkened Paris streets. Every day young rioters have been expressing a deep anger at the French society, even going so far as to burn schools, the ultimate symbol of the "République." Most are not immigrants themselves: they are French citizens, born in France, sometimes even born to parents who were born in France themselves. But they have not been integrated at all. Living in grim ghettos, without jobs, coping daily with discrimination and racism, they feel like they were abandoned by their country.
Riché goes on to explain that the French must now consider something like "affirmative action," but that is unlikely to go very far because of the deep conservatism of the French political elite.

See also Pascal Bruckner in The National Review here - "The riots could only have happened in France."

Ric sent a long post about these two items, but added, "It's a head-bender. Let me think about this before having any of it posted."

So more will follow.

Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, Thursday, November 10, 2005, 11:45 am Pacific Time -

Posted by Alan at 16:56 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005 17:04 PST home

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