November 04, 2005

La Violence en Banlieu (Ile-de-France)...
I don't know if you've heard about the problems in the suburbs of Paris (hopefully you have), but it's been going on for a over a week now. Dominique de Villepin (French Prime Minister) even put off his official visit to Canada and Quebec to stay in France to deal with the situation.
The whole thing started on October 27th, when two boys (15 and 17) were electrocuted in an electric substation in Clichy-sous-Bois (outskirts of Paris) after fleeing from police. Of course the police deny the fact that they were chasing the boys.
Soon after, rioting started in mainly "ethnic" (read poor Black and Arab neighbourhoods that have been segregated by the French) areas surrounding Paris. Last night was the eighth night of rioting, in which more than 500 cars were torched, 27 buses burned, and 5 riot police injured in the Paris region alone. The violence is spreading to other areas of France too, such as Dijon where a few cars were torched last night as well. Nicolas Sarkozy, the Minister of the Interior said about the riots that they are "troublemakers, a bunch of hoodlums, [and] think they can do whatever they want".
I'm actually surprised that this violence hasn't occurred earlier, considering the amount of racism and discrimination that exists in France towards Blacks and Arabs. Almost every time I entered the Metro in Lille, I would see the French police interrogating an Arab. After my police incident, I was told by a few French people that "it's odd that they stopped you, because you don't look Black or Arab," as if that was a common occurrence.

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