Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2005 11:38 pm
I am surprised that so important a series of events as the riots in France has received so, relatively, little attention. (But then am I really?)

Some of us have, in the past, made the observation that Europe, and in particular France, was going to soon be faced with a crisis born of a growing muslim population within their borders.

Old Europeans were quick to tell us that there was no such issue.

It was, I suppose, easy to dismiss the ritualistic murder of Theo Van Gough at the hands of a European Muslim. Afterall, that was but one looney fanatic, and he was white to boot!

Now these same folks seem to be telling us: "Hey, it's really no big deal. It's just the violent manifestation of the angst of disaffected youth." There's really no religious or cultural underpinning to these riots; simply the age old issue of the have-nots rebelling against the haves.

A "right-wing" French politician was interviewed this morning on NPR. He explained that what France was dealing with was a small minority of hoodlums bent on criminal violence. The NPR reporter responded "Surely not all of the youths involved are criminals."

Well...yes they are. If they are participating in riots; burning cars and buildings, they are criminals, no matter how disaffected they may be.

Are these riots somehow a manifestation of Islamic activism? I don't think so; at least not right now. Given time, however, they will be, and the French government seems prepared to give them all the time that is required.

This is, however, a European Muslim problem. The muslim population of Europe is growing at a greater rate than that of non-muslims. By and large, muslims throughout Europe are relegated to second-class citizenship. Whether this is because of their religion, their nationality or their skin color is hardly material. The pressure in the pot has been building for some time now and, as we can see, has begun to blow.

Chirac and the other leaders of the European Chocolate Makers hoped, in part, to buy submissiveness from their expanding muslim populations by coming out forcefully against the invasion of Iraq. As usual, appeasement didn't work.

Rioting, disaffected muslim youth are an incredibly fertile field for Islamic extremists. Does anyone really think they will allow this field to remain fallow?

This is but the leading edge of a major crisis for France and other European nations. The UK has already experienced the bloody reality of the problem, and it is inevitable that the rest of Europe will follow suit. Undoubtedly, France and other european nations took comfort, and no small amount of satisfaction, in the fact that Islamic terrorism struck Europe in a nation that supported the Iraqi war -- England.

True, the current riots were probably not born from Islam-fascist designs, but they will soon be co-opted.

What will France and the rest of Old Europe do?

We all know that to the extent that institutional racism exist in the world, it has no greater champion than America, and yet how is it that enlightened France and Old Europe has developed this seething underclass distinguishable if not by their religion, than certainly by their race?

Among the other French citizens interviewed by NPR was a teacher from the troubled suburbs of Paris.

She recounted the utter hopelessness of her muslim/north african students, and added, almost apologetically, that many of them want to move to America which they see as a land of greater opportunity.

Imagine that.
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2005 10:29 am
France has surrendered.

<My way of bookmarking>

<Good post, Finn>
0 Replies
 
Lord Ellpus
 
  2  
Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2005 12:04 pm
Where do I begin?

Far be it for me to defend France (just ask Nimh and Francis), but you are wrong to tie this in with the whole Muslim thing, as you would be to say that the race riots in the USA are because of the problem that you are having with the large number of black gospel choir members that you have residing in your midst.

Race and racism is certainly a factor, poverty another and large concentrations of high rise "poor" dwellings yet another. This is not unique to Europe. This sort of thing happens all over the poorer parts of the USA, from time to time.

........and JW..... as for surrendering. What do you expect them to do?

Get a few Humvees and blast them off the face of the earth?
Oh, wait a minute............maybe you're one of THOSE Americans....
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2005 12:21 pm
Your glee at the problems in France is apparant Finn.

Which motivates you more, anti islamism or francophobia?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2005 12:46 pm
Re: Riots in France
Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
I am surprised that so important a series of events as the riots in France has received so, relatively, little attention. (But then am I really?)

I posted about it in the "banlieue" thread, as did several other posters, two of them French. <shrugs>

But yeah, I gotta admit that in learning more about what's happening in France and gaining insights on it, the "input" of A2K's US conservatives is the last place I'm going to...
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Nov, 2005 10:45 pm
Re: Riots in France
nimh wrote:
Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
I am surprised that so important a series of events as the riots in France has received so, relatively, little attention. (But then am I really?)

I posted about it in the "banlieue" thread, as did several other posters, two of them French. <shrugs>


I read some of your links, but found many on my own (including some French blogs). Maybe I missed it, but I only saw one French poster in that thread post more than one paragraph and he mostly said it was just some kids setting fires to their own properties and own cars.

nimh wrote:
But yeah, I gotta admit that in learning more about what's happening in France and gaining insights on it, the "input" of A2K's US conservatives is the last place I'm going to...


Yep, I sometimes feel the same way when going down the list of topics in the Politics forum these days. Most are ridiculously over the top and some of the thread titles are so distasteful I don't even bother to click on them anymore.

Anyway, I hope the worst of it is over for France. I don't much respect the officials running things there, but certainly the people didn't deserve this mess. I'll tell you who my heart really goes out to is the parents of the kids responsible. I just can't help feeling that they perhaps did work hard to make a new home there and are most likely quite disturbed to see this as a result of their efforts.

People say it could happen here and I agree because it could happen anywhere.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Nov, 2005 11:17 pm
What do you mean, "it could happen here?"

It has happened in the United States. There were the
"Watts riots" http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/la/watts.html,
then the LA riots http://www.citivu.com/ktla/sc-ch1.html

Or the Cincinnati riots http://www.cincinnati.com/unrest/
and let's not forget Waco http://www.islandone.org/Politics/Waco.McCurry.html

No one spoke of the demise of the United States then,
so why shouldn't Europe be able to handle such a small
incident in a suburb of Paris?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2005 05:57 am
Well, two continuous weeks of violent rioting in suburbs across France is a little more than "a small incident" - but I do agree with the comparison to Watts / South Central / Cincinnatti. Ghetto riots are ghetto riots.

In fact, in Holland at least, not all too long ago we still used to call this kind of thing, with dread and disapproval, "Amerikaanse toestanden", or American affairs ("affairs" as in: "a mess"). We stopped saying that once Fortuyn and Van Gogh were murdered and gunfights broke out over arrests of Islamists in The Hague, but still, yeah - you were there first.

I was pasting more news stories in Lusatian's thread.
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2005 09:56 am
Re: Riots in France
JustWonders wrote:
People say it could happen here and I agree because it could happen anywhere.


I suppose I should have spelled out that by "it" I was thinkig more along the lines of more closely mirroring what's going on in France - unassimilated immigrants throwing Molitov (sp?) cocktails while yelling "Allah Ackbar". Actually, being second-generation immigrants, these kids should be thinking of themselves as French more than anything else, but it's being widely reported that they don't. Personally, I tend to think it's a combination of poverty/unemployment/unassimilation.

What little I know of the rioting in Watts, it was contained in Southern California and didn't spread to the rest of the nation. I'd look it up, but I thought this was to be a discussion of what's going on in France.

Totally understand (and expected) the bringing up of America's problems in this area, though. Just wouldn't be A2K if that didn't happen.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2005 04:52 pm
One of the problems is that France doesn't think of these peoples, second-generation of immigrants, as French. Discrimination against them is in many ways worse than the discrimination against minorities in the US. I think I read in one of the linked articles that France is just now considering anti-discrimination legislation. I think resistance to assimilation is a direct result of discrimination.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2005 04:55 pm
Rather, it is an anti-discrimination agency that de Villepin is proposing.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 12:57 am
Lord Ellpus wrote:
Where do I begin?

I don't know, and it doesn't appear that you came to a satisfactory answer yourself.

Far be it for me to defend France (just ask Nimh and Francis), but you are wrong to tie this in with the whole Muslim thing, as you would be to say that the race riots in the USA are because of the problem that you are having with the large number of black gospel choir members that you have residing in your midst.

What is the "whole Muslim thing?"

Do you disagree that the sociological deprivations of North African immigrants, and their progeny, in France create a fertile field for Islamic fundamentalism?

Do you disagree that Islam as a religion and a cultural engine does not represent a unifying force among the North African immigrants of France?


Race and racism is certainly a factor, poverty another and large concentrations of high rise "poor" dwellings yet another. This is not unique to Europe. This sort of thing happens all over the poorer parts of the USA, from time to time.


Whether or not there have been similar riots in the US is immaterial. If the title of this thread were America Is Better Than Europe Because Of The Riots In France, you might have a point, but it clearly is not.

Europe has long considered itself superior to America in terms of race relations so there is an ironic aspect to race riots within the boundaries of one of America's most prominent critics, but this is an aside, not the main thrust.


........and JW..... as for surrendering. What do you expect them to do?

Get a few Humvees and blast them off the face of the earth?
Oh, wait a minute............maybe you're one of THOSE Americans....
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 07:25 am
Re: Riots in France
JustWonders wrote:
What little I know of the rioting in Watts, it was contained in Southern California and didn't spread to the rest of the nation. I'd look it up, but I thought this was to be a discussion of what's going on in France.

Totally understand (and expected) the bringing up of America's problems in this area, though. Just wouldn't be A2K if that didn't happen.

Ghetto riots in other countries are relevant because the identification of the role of Islam or Islamic culture as the main reason of the French riots would seem to be refuted by the fact that highly similar riots have broken out in highly similar surroundings (impoverished ghettos of economic, social and racial exclusion) where muslims were wholly absent. That to me would suggest that the main cause for such riots lies in something that those surroundings have in common, instead: said exclusion, for example.

In many ways, immigrants in France seem to be where blacks in the US were in the late sixties.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 07:33 am
Further news and takes still in Lusatian's thread.

And talking about comparisons between France and the US, one factlet brought up in an article I saw made me wonder about something; input welcome: Comparing the French and LA riots: Number of casualties
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 01:18 am
Re: Riots in France
nimh wrote:
JustWonders wrote:
What little I know of the rioting in Watts, it was contained in Southern California and didn't spread to the rest of the nation. I'd look it up, but I thought this was to be a discussion of what's going on in France.

Totally understand (and expected) the bringing up of America's problems in this area, though. Just wouldn't be A2K if that didn't happen.

Ghetto riots in other countries are relevant because the identification of the role of Islam or Islamic culture as the main reason of the French riots would seem to be refuted by the fact that highly similar riots have broken out in highly similar surroundings (impoverished ghettos of economic, social and racial exclusion) where muslims were wholly absent. That to me would suggest that the main cause for such riots lies in something that those surroundings have in common, instead: said exclusion, for example.

In many ways, immigrants in France seem to be where blacks in the US were in the late sixties.


Undoubtedly someone has suggested that the role of Islam or Islamic culture is the main reason for the French riots, but, clearly, that's not the case for the originator of this thread.

But just as JW has come to accept that any discussion of the woes of one country will inevitably lead to pronouncements about the woes of America, I have come to accept that A2Kers tend to respond not to what is actually written, but rather what they would prefer had been written.

That the French riots have their origins in racism and lack of opportunity is not really subject to debate. However, ignoring the fact that the rioters are members of Islam or, at least, Islamic culture is simply foolish.

The greater Islamo-fascist movement has been nurtured by the same sense of hopelessness present in French ghettos. Should we ignore the element of Islam in this movement, because countries throughout the world have under-classes?

I'm really not sure what the point is in attempting to draw comparisons between French and American riots. Again, if this thread attempted to claim that the French riots are proof that America is superior to France, then it might be relevant, but, of course, this is not what the thread is doing.

Like JW I am not surprised by the posters who insist on telling us "Yeah, but you Americans have had riots too...and more people die in your riots than in the French riots!" It doesn't make their comments any more meaningful, just not a surprise.

Since we seem to be forced to compare American riots to the French riots, let's do so. The relevant points of such a comparison are:

African-American riots in America have always, inevitably, burned themselves out. There has never been an overarching movement which could benefit from, and exploit American riots. Not so in France.

Does anyone believe that Islamists in France are not attempting to exploit the rough network of rioters that has formed in France?

American riots have never really represented an initial step in a much greater problem for America. Not so in France.

American rioters while separated from the majority by race have always been far more culturally aligned to the American majority than is the case in France. They certainly have been far more religiously aligned.

And unlike their French counterparts, American rioters have never represented a demographic segment that will inevitably become the majority in the absence of significant change.

For the sake of this thread, let's stipulate that America has had it's share of riots, that American society contains racist strains, and that America is not, necessarily, a better place than France because of the French riots.

The issues are:

What do these riots say about France now, and what do they portend for the future of France, and by extension Europe?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 02:15 am
Re: Riots in France
Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
The issues are:

What do these riots say about France now, and what do they portend for the future of France, and by extension Europe?


Do I understand you correct: you want to leave the USA out, but the other European countries included?
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 10:23 am
Yes Walter.

nimn, quite a bold statement to say that French immigrants,
who are mostly second and third generation immigrants by
now, are where blacks in the US were in the late sixties.

The segregation the blacks were faced with in the 60s
are probably comparable to the apartheid in South Africa,
but not to the immigrants in France.
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 10:57 am
Re: Riots in France
nimh wrote:
In many ways, immigrants in France seem to be where blacks in the US were in the late sixties.


Sorry, Nimh, silly statement...
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 01:27 pm
Perhaps I'm underestimating how bad it was for blacks in America in the late sixties, structurally. I certainly don't mean to compare Paris with how it was in the South.

But the riots, the motivations given by the participants, the way they break out and play out in Paris etc now seem awfully similar to those in urban America of the 60s/70s - or those in Britain in the early 80s, and again in America in the 90s. Listen to Abou Jahjah's rhetorical appeal in Belgium, the sentiments willing audiences for someone like him express, and the most obvious comparison is that with the feeding ground of embittered, gritty urban resentment someone like Malcolm X found.

Francis, from your post in the other thread too I glean that we might actually just really disagree about how serious it is what's going on in France's ghettos. You may think foreigners get an exaggerated image through the media; and though I dont know anything about you I do think many French - the kind who dont actually live in those neighbourhoods - have long trained themselves not to acknowledge the reality of living there all too much (see this post).
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Nov, 2005 02:10 pm
Re: Riots in France
Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
Like JW I am not surprised by the posters who insist on telling us "Yeah, but you Americans have had riots too...and more people die in your riots than in the French riots!" It doesn't make their comments any more meaningful, just not a surprise.


Eh ... that was totally not the point of the other thread. But I'm not surprised you took it that way.

Luckily most others didn't, and the discussion has been rather interesting, if speculative, with some quite varied suggestions on what explanations there might be. Nobody (else) took it as a nya-nya playground thing. <shrugs>

Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
And unlike their French counterparts, American rioters have never represented a demographic segment that will inevitably become the majority in the absence of significant change.

Have you ever tried to calculate yourself how many years it would take, looking at the growth rates of the French Muslim population so far, before the French Muslims actually become "the majority" in the country? I mean, to not take some columnist's or politician's warning about it, but calculate the numbers? The result might surprise you...

Finn d'Abuzz wrote:
What do these riots say about France now, and what do they portend for the future of France, and by extension Europe?

The comparison with the US (and British) riots of erstwhile served primarily the objective of defining what is going on and what the proper responses to it would be - and what misguided responses would be.

For example, the latest discovery regarding the French-Muslim minority is that there are pockets in its communities left where poligamy, formally forbidden, is still practiced. France's Minister of Employment and the parliamentary leader of the government party UMP have jumped on this as a possible explanation for how these youths came to be so anti-social and ended up rioting: lack of a father figure.

Now to the extent that it is indeed still practiced, that must obviously not have helped. And I dont think anyone would object to the statement that it needs to be consistently rejected, since thats just not how the law of the land works.

But spectacular though the finding is, a comparison with race riots earlier and elsewhere shows that riots quite like the French ones have broken out with the same fervour (less sustained, more casualties, but according to much the same patterns) without such exotic cultural triggers.

My reaction is: politicians who grasp at this to explain (away) the riots truly cant see the forest for the trees; or perhaps its a question of clutching at straws not to have to acknowledge the much more harder to tackle, more guilt-involved issues of institutional racism and socio-economic exclusion.

Believe it or not, the comparison with America and the UK is at least partly meant as a hint to look at lessons learnt.

Though violence flared up again in Birmingham last month, I think overall the situation of Caribbeans in Britain, who were the prime (if not sole) movers of riots in the early eighties, has much improved. For all the jokes on the other thread about ferocious LA cops, LA actually also constitutes an example of how targeted policy-making - for example the drastic overhaul, re-training, re-hiring of the LAPD in the mid-nineties - can remove a lot of the most acute feeding grounds for renewed rioting.

I think it is relevant, when formulating policies, that in France (and elsewhere in Europe), the current underclass is to a large extent Muslim. I think it would be a mistake to think that its Muslimness is the underlying cause of the riots.

I think it would be as much a mistake as defining the urban trouble with Irish communities (in the UK or US) a century ago as the result of their Irishness and Catholicism (with the suspicion, then, that they secretly just wanted the government to defer to papal authority as the equivalent of the current talk of Caliphates). The cultural elements need to be taken into account, but focusing on them as the cause makes one forget that the West has some experience in waves of underclass discontent - and in finding long-term solutions for it. Which would be a shame.

Such a mistake would make policy-makers focus feverishly on repressing this or that expression of cultural difference (eg, headscarves), rather than on homing in on the socio-economic marginalisation and institutionalised racism thats at the basis, once again, of the failure and resentment of an underclass. It would be a costly one, losing us years of distraction.

Considering how tough-talking, down-clamping Minister Sarkozy is also a champion of affirmative action, and Chirac has announced a whole litany of new socio-economic incentives, there may be hope on that count, tho.
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