Nov 4, 2005

France on Fire: North African youth riots

"Anything could have started it. When you're an immigrant here, you're just stuck in your shit. Does it really surprise you it's going up in flames?"
- Momo, Age 26, Aulnay-sous-Bois

"The thugs will disappear, I will deploy the force necessary to clean this up. We will use the Karcher treatment [referring to a cleaning product]. We will send in special teams and then, if necessary, the riot squads."
- Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of Public Security, June 20th, La Courneuve

Last weeks deaths of two North African immigrant youth who were being pursued by police has set off the longest period of urban and suburban rioting in France's most recent past.

Trying to find critical and informed commentary from a radical angel is proving difficult. The blog, Sketchy Thoughts, has tried to provide some French-to-English translations of news. The two above quotes have been taken from a recent post on this blog.

Other stories relating to the Paris events:
Irish Examiner - Rioting continues to spread further
My Way News - Rioting Spreads Beyond Paris Suburbs
Expatica Magazine -Week of violence prompts French soul-searching
BBC - Anger Grips Paris Riot Suburb

While some seem to want to say that the riots are "race riots" this seems simplistic. While the actions seem to be carried out by mostly North African and Muslim youth, the root cause seems to be around the marginalizationion many from these communitiesees face. It's the case of the Tipping Point - where factors have reached a critical level and the pot boils over.

The Paris riots may be a sign of things to come as Europe becomes more global while failing to offer satisfactory integration on the economic and social basis to its growing immigrant populace. And while these current riots may be in poor Middle Eastern, African and Muslim estates of France, as we see more economic decline within the traditional "core" countries of Western Europe and the U.S., we need to ask if insurgency against being stuck in society's periphery may emerge in urban areas that were once the prosperous and now the declining. Capitalist globalization is creating vast areas of economic instability and social marginalizationion - from Paris to Detroit to Manchester to New Orleans to where ever industry picks up and leaves in favor of new labor pools that are cheaper and easier to exploit.