Conditions in France

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Insightful essay in Canada's National Post:
Intifada a la francaise
The French government is faltering as the flames of urban warfare spread from Paris to over 300 towns. Schools, warehouses, gymnasiums, bus depots, restaurants and shopping malls are being sacked and burned. Journalists, ambulance personnel and firemen are being attacked. Even armour-clad riot police now fear for their lives, as some of the protesters have equipped themselves with guns.

President Jacques Chirac, supposedly recovered from a stroke suffered in August, is out of commission. His dauphin, Dominique de Villepin, makes pompous proclamations while trying to roast his arch-rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in the flames of immigrant rage. But the plain-spoken Mr. Sarkozy did not summon this rage on his own. It has been simmering for years in the form of a steady increase in lawless, anti-social behaviour.

Until now, the angry Muslim men who constitute the bulk of the rioters have been allowed to masquerade as victims. It is a common refrain that these second- and third-generation North African immigrants have been marginalized by a racist French society. But much of what goes under the name of harassment is simply the half-hearted intrusion of the forces of order into territories that have been conquered by another system of values. In Muslim ghettoes, pimping, drug dealing, theft, terrorism and Islamic law mix and match. The block of working-class suburbs, or banlieues, in the Seine St-Denis region outside Paris, is especially lawless.

These areas are hardly dismal, dilapidated hellholes. Most of the housing and infrastructure is decent. Those who wish to pursue clean, honest lives have plenty of opportunities to do so. The insurrection spreading through France cannot be understood through the traditional Marxist prism of poverty, unemployment and discrimination. These problems exist in all nations. What is different in France's Muslim ghettoes is a tradition of hate and xenophobia, one which the state has until now either ignored or encouraged.
Read the rest; the author - Nidra Poller is an American novelist and translator living in Paris. Googling her name turns up some fascinating reading...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 13, 2005 11:03 AM.

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