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Riots Spread

Publication time: 7 November 2005, 00:44

The civil riot movement, which started 10 days ago in the suburbs of Paris, where immigrants live, cannot be resolved. The fights spread to other cities in France last night. Le Monde, one of the highly esteemed newspapers in the country, likened the events to that of 1968; the US and Portugal warned their citizens: Be ware of Paris, do not get on planes or buses.

 

Two youths were electrocuted at an electricity sub-station in Clichy-sous-Bois after reportedly fleeing from police in the capital of France, Paris. Following the incident, large scale riots erupted in France. The events that started 10 days ago, spread to the whole country. The fights between the youth and the police spread to Nice, Toulouse, Marsilya, Lille and Rouen after they emerged in Paris. French Police arrested 258 people while trying to control the events. The number of cars which were burned in last night alone exceeds 900 and an estimated 7 million Euro damage took place. Representatives of the opposition Socialist, Green and Communist Parties wanted Ministry of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy to resign as he provoked the youths with his harsh statements. The members of the government met and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin evaluated the latest situation with 8 ministers in charge and discussed the measurements that needed to be taken. The French Press wrote that Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is face to face with a major crisis, adding the events rocked the government.

 

Le Monde compared the riot of the suburban immigrant youths in Paris to the events of ‘68. The newspaper reminded that the youth rioted in 1968 rebelling to the political and social structure of that period and added that today the immigrant youth were left outside the society uneducated and unemployed. However, the newspaper noted that the riot of the immigrant youth does not draw sympathy like the riot of 1968 but, it draws fear with the damage it gives and added that the youth, which do not have a purpose nor a dream, do not have a message to give. . The newspaper noted that the riot in the suburbs is on the agenda in France since 1970’s and also emphasized that unemployment, migration, educational failure, urbanization and racism, which are shown to be the reason for the riot, are issues that have been in political discussion for long years.

 

Le Monde indicated that political struggle came very much to the foreground. Reminding that President Jacques Chirac’s term is about to end, Le Monde commented that the developments constituted a new field of conflict between Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

 

The riot that started in the Parisian suburb, Clichy-Sous-Bois, last week on Thursday spread to the center of Paris on Saturday. The officials reported that four automobiles were subject to petrol bomb attacks near the Place de la Republic at the heart of the city. Police reported that 100 vehicles were torched until midnight and a youth center, two schools and a paper processing facility were set on fire in Saturday night’s events. A fire erupted in the public library in the Southwestern city of Toulouse. Paris Prosecutor General Yves Bot noted that the incidents around Paris were instances of “organized violence” and that the persons who torched the vehicles were acting in an organized way. He related that masked individuals riding motorbikes threw petrol bombs to the vehicles and that it was very difficult to capture them. The prosecutor announced that these groups strived to expand their “revolt” to other cities through internet sites and phone calls. On the other side, the capture of a 10 years old boy with a petrol bomb in his hand was a marking development.

 

Many buildings belonging to Turkish tradesmen were damaged by the attacks. Sabri Arici, the owner of a furniture store, the glasses of which were crushed with stones, noted that the latest developments demoralized the Turkish citizens living in the region. Recalling that there had been long standing problems in the Parisian suburbs, he listed the reason for these as low education level, unemployment and cultural difference. “These people are exhausted by the problems,” Arici said. Turkish Paris Consulate Chief Auxillary Senem Guzel visited the suburbs in unrest and spoke with the representatives of the Turkish communities living there. Guzel indicated that Turks did in no way participate in the incidents and that consequently there was no problem for the Turks living in the region.

 

Sarkozy: We are trying to be firm and avoid any provocation

 

France’s Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been blamed for provoking the Paris riots with his tough statements, said the government was determined not to make any concessions for violent incidents in the suburbs. Making statements after a crisis meeting in the Prime Ministry office Saturday, Sarkozy noted the Republic could not accept violence. Transferring special police units to the region by extending a message of “zero tolerance” after the start of incidents, Sarkozy was accused of acting in a combative manner. On the other hand, Sarkozy writing an article for Le Monde daily on Saturday defended his policy, indicating faithless and lawless people opened fire to representatives of the Republic without any hesitation and burned everything. Opponent parties; however, accused Sarkozy of instigating the events and demanded his resignation.

 

Additionally, it has been reported that the police did not target the mosque following a bomb attack on the mosque in the initial days of the riots. Dalil Boubakeur, the head of France's official Islamic council, argued that the prime minister guaranteed him that the police had not targeted the mosque at any rate. The prime minister said that the security forces did not target the Montfermeil mosque and it is unfortunate that this kind of thing happened, stated Boubakeur. Tear bombs were thrown at a mosque in Montfermeil during the late-evening prayer, causing the Muslim population to become furious at this offensive. The police officers first argued that they did not throw the bombs; however, Sarkozy afterwards announced that the bombs thrown at the mosque were of the same type as those that the security forces deploy. The Muslim population in the area is furious that the French officials have not yet apologized for what happened. The families of the youths that died in the electricity transformer issued a statement to call for tranquility. The statement read, “France does not deserve this.”

 

The events reached the top of the agenda at once when the two young people died in an electricity transformer where they took shelter on the evening of October 27 because they were being chased by police. The violence grew once the Montfermeil mosque was bombed, and due to the fact that Sarkozy labeled the young people living in this district as tramps and vagabonds.

 

Agencies


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