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Monday, November 07, 2005

French violence hits fresh peak


At least 1,400 vehicles have been burnt out and 395 people arrested in France's latest rioting, while the unrest has apparently claimed its first fatality. Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, 61, who fell into a coma after being beaten by a hooded man last week, has died. The announcement followed the worst night of violence since the unrest began 11 days ago. Ten policemen were hurt, two seriously, by gunfire and stones while confronting 200 rioters in a Paris suburb.
The big question with the riots in France and elsewhere, is what they mean. Is this an Islamist offensive against Europe, the herald of the coming Eurabia as some claim, or is it merely rage and discontent at high unemployment with the predominately muslim nature of the rioters being an irrelevant factor as others allege. As always there is probably some truth to both sides. At this point, I think that it is mostly the unemployment, and even more signifigantly, lack of a future, that is driving this. While that is almost certainly the fuel though, I think that there is pretty good evidence that Islamists, or radical Muslims with an al-Qaeda like ideology, are fanning the flames, and may have even helped provide the spark. This Captain's Quarter's post notes that Islamist groups called for action against France a few weeks ago. Instapundit is doing a great job of collecting lots of links on this, (see this post for example) and a quick perusal gives the impression that while opinions abound, no one is very sure what exactly is going on. There are hints of a certain amount of organization, which could be spontaneous or could be evidence of an Islamist command and control melding this. Certainly the possibility of Islamist groups contributing to logistics, supplying incendiaries and perhaps guns exists but I haven't seen any hard evidence of such a thing. We do know that there are Islamist sypathizers in France (and everywhere else for that matter) and undoubtedly they would be happy to increase the chaos, so it seems fair to assume that they are doing so, if only on a small scale. In other ways though it is patently obvious that the Muslim nature of these riots is a side effect, not a cause. 30% unemployment of some of these areas is an obvious sign that things are not working well. These areas have also been largely lawless for some time, and while this has some connection to a multiculturalist tendancy to not get involved or disparage in any way the 'customs' of these areas (including some pretty horrible violence toward women that reminds one of Taliban Afghanistan) mostly it is the all to common tendency to ignore crime in poor areas as long as they stay in there own territory. Sadly of course, crime is a huge obstacle to anyone, whether in France or here in America trying to overcome poverty. Not only does it directly impact the poor, by taking their stuff which is harder for them to replace that it is for a middle class person, it also dramatically limits the ability for local businesses to function. Obviously this can quickly create a vicious cycle. I have been trying to think of a way forward for France (and much of the rest of Europe) that will be possible for them to navigate and result in at least a marginal solution. So far, I haven't gotten there yet, but at a minimum it seems that there must be a much more serious effort to control crime in the slums, not as an anti-Muslim or racist response, but from the understanding that letting criminals run these areas (which they have long before this wave of riots broke out) is a disaster for the people that live there.


Blogger Brian said...

I think you're right about the mixed nature of the riots.

The model, I think, is that of the various "anti-globalization" riots that have cropped up around the world lately. Your average anti-WTOer is just a garden-variety ignoramus who likes to chant dumb slogans and break stuff. The real violence is driven by a small, hardened inner core of anarchists who actually set out to foment as much chaos as possible.

In this case, it looks like the average rioter is just a garden variety knucklehead who wants to take out some frustrations on a few parked cars. That's probably why there haven't been many more deaths. On the other hand, you can see that the violence is starting to escalate in isolated incidents of gunfire. Those are probably the work of the Islamists in the crowd, playing the role of the agitators.

In this light, I think the French have made a HUGE mistake in pussyfooting around for as long as they have. Agitators take time to get into position; the WTO riots get so bad so quickly because the anarchists know when they're coming and position themselves accordingly. Since these riots started spontaneously, there was no time for Islamists to preposition; it's now taking them a little while to come online. Now that they are doing so, the violence they foment will make the riots much more costly to put down, both in money and in human terms.

11/07/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger K. Pablo said...

From everything I've read, the demographic group burning all the vehicles is the same group that, in more desperate circumstances, resorts to strapping on & detonating backpack bombs on public transport.

Makes me think of mindless & nihilistic anarchists with nothing else to do. I can see a scenario where middle class college students would join the fun, because it's just so radically chic....

11/07/2005 06:34:00 PM  

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