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November 8, 2005
Curfews Don't Stop Rioting

The riots in France continued for a twelfth straight night as the French have turned to a two-pronged plan of curfews and offers of new social programs to stop the violent uprising that has originated from primarily Muslim neighborhoods. The new curfew laws come under the authority of a state of emergency called by the French cabinet and grant broad powers to the police to conduct raids on suspected weapons caches:

After a 12th night of violence, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, said state of emergency laws would be used to quell the disturbances.

"We will now be able to act in a preventative manner to avoid these incidents," Mr Sarkozy said. "We will monitor, bit by bit, the evolution of events."

Among other powers, police will be able to conduct raids if they suspect weapons are being stockpiled, Mr Sarkozy said.

He did not say where or how curfews might be imposed or how long they might last, but a French government spokesman said the curfews will come into effect at midnight tonight.

The action follows a night in which almost 1200 cars were lost to arson, down just a bit from the previous night's total of 1500. The violence appears to keep spreading, however, even with the slightly lower car loss from the previous night. Yesterday the uprising claimed its first death in Stains, a Parisian suburb, and the Los Angeles Times reports that it hardly made an impression on the people in the riot zone:

Le Chenadec was part of the aging native French population that lives warily alongside the children and grandchildren of North African, Asian and black immigrants. Told they are French but treated as outsiders, the youths are adrift in joblessness, crime and, more than ever, unfocused rage.

The beefy, white-mustached Le Chenadec, 61, was a retired auto worker and a leader of the residents' council in his building. On Friday, he went outside with a neighbor to check on a fire ignited in garbage cans a spark compared with the walls of flame that have swept this depressed region north of Paris.

A man of about 20 approached and exchanged words with the two residents. Then he knocked Le Chenadec to the pavement with a crushing punch. The assailant has not been captured. ...

No one on the boulevard admitted participating in the riots. Nor did they excuse the death of Le Chenadec. But one muttered that the dead man had a reputation for belligerence and comments with a racist tinge.

"The kind of French guy with a mean dog who was always saying, 'This is my building, back off,' that kind of thing," said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

The Guardian (UK) presumes that Le Chenandec confronted the rioters before having been beaten into a coma -- without benefit of any quotes or sources -- where the LAT report at least digs up some witness testimony that suggests the man's only problem was a reputation for irascibility when it came to trespassers and troublemakers. The Guardian also reports that the French government has targeted that same segment for a new, sweeping social program designed to mollify what it sees as the leading cause of the social unrest over the past fortnight:

Mr de Villepin added that the government aimed to give more funds to community associations, accelerate housing renovation, offer individual attention to jobseekers, and ensure France's education was better suited to the needs of the suburbs, by offering apprenticeships from age 14 for those failing at school, and scholarships to those succeeding. "We have to offer hope," he said.

Meanwhile, the Guardian took the rare step in the media to check on what the Muslim community leaders were doing regarding the violence. The paper states that Muslim leadership is "unlikely" as an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood issued a fatwa against violence earlier during the rioting. However, that fatwa was rejected by the nation's Muslim Council and the Grand Mosque of Paris -- and the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood suddenly stands for peace and violence-free, spiritual jihad seems rather ludicrous.

The French may hope to ride out the violence and buy off some of the leaders with a few new social programs they can ill afford, considering the problems they have paying their bills now. However, the escalating violence and the direct confrontation shown towards French security forces -- and the latter's unwillingness to engage -- shows a serious threat to French stability that has much more than the over-eager energies of youth as a cause. No one still wants to talk about the Algerian threats from six weeks ago, nor the follow-up intelligence reported by the Post that points to Islamist instigation of the uprising. The media has remained silent on these points despite having all but connected the dots towards an eventual attack on France as late as October 19th, less than a fortnight before the uprising.

Until the French take the threat seriously, every offer they make of social programs and concessions to autonomy will only encourage the violence to continue until the Islamists get the Bantustans they want in the heart of Europe -- ministates from which they can launch an all-out offensive against the West, similar to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Middle East. The French seem to be betting that they can outlast the violence. Islamists, however, do not tire easily.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 8, 2005 6:00 AM

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» How Empires End from La Shawn Barber's Corner
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