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What is going on in Paris?

By Garion11 ·
Civil Mayhem Rocks France for 12th Night

By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 48 minutes ago

PARIS - France will impose curfews under a state-of-emergency law and call up police reservists to stop rioting that has spread out of Paris' suburbs and into nearly 300 cities and towns across the country, the prime minister said Monday, calling a return to order "our No. 1 responsibility."

The tough new measures came as France's worst civil unrest in decades entered a 12th night, with rioters in the southern city of Toulouse setting fire to a bus after sundown after ordering passengers off, and elsewhere pelting police with gasoline bombs and rocks and torching a nursery school.

Outside the capital in Sevran, a junior high school was set ablaze, while in another Paris suburb, Vitry-sur-Seine, youths threw gasoline bombs at a hospital, police said. No one was injured. Earlier, a 61-year-old retired auto worker died of wounds from an attack last week, the first death in the violence.

Asked on TF1 television whether the army should be brought in, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said, "We are not at that point."

But "at each step, we will take the necessary measures to re-establish order very quickly throughout France," he said. "That is our prime duty: ensuring everyone's protection."

The recourse to curfews followed the worst overnight violence so far, and foreign governments warned their citizens to be careful in France. Apparent copycat attacks took place outside France, with five cars torched outside the main train station in Brussels, Belgium. German police were investigating the burning of five cars in Berlin.

National police spokesman Patrick Hamon said there was a "considerable decrease" in the number of incidents overnight into Tuesday in the Paris region.

Nationwide vandals burned 814 cars overnight compared to 1,400 vehicles a night earlier, according to national police figures. A total of 143 people were arrested down from 395 the night before.

The violence started Oct. 27 among youths in a northeastern Paris suburb angry over the accidental deaths of two teenagers but has grown into a nationwide insurrection.

The mayhem is forcing France to confront anger building for decades in neglected suburbs and among the French-born children of Arab and black African immigrants. The teenagers whose deaths sparked the rioting were of Mauritanian and Tunisian descent. They were electrocuted as they hid from police in a power substation, apparently thinking they were being chased.

President Jacques Chirac, in private comments more conciliatory than his warnings Sunday that rioters would be caught and punished, acknowledged in a meeting Monday with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that France has not integrated immigrant youths, she said.

Chirac deplored the "ghettoization of youths of African or North African origin" and recognized "the incapacity of French society to fully accept them," said Vike-Freiberga.

France "has not done everything possible for these youths, supported them so they feel understood, heard and respected," Chirac added, noting that unemployment runs as high as 40 percent in some suburbs, four times the national rate, according to Vike-Freiberga.

In violence Monday, vandals burned churches, schools and businesses, and injured 36 police officers in clashes around the country, setting a new high for arson and violence, said France's national police chief, Michel Gaudin.

"This spread, with a sort of shock wave spreading across the country, shows up in the number of towns affected," Gaudin said.

In terms of material destruction, the unrest is France's worst since World War II ? and never has rioting struck so many different French cities simultaneously, said security expert Sebastian Roche, a director of research at the state-funded National Center for Scientific Research.

Villepin said curfews will be imposed under a 1955 law that allows the declaring of a state of emergency in parts or all of France. The law was passed to curb unrest in Algeria during the war that led to its independence.

He said 1,500 reservists were being called up to reinforce the 8,000 police and gendarmes already deployed. The Cabinet will meet Tuesday to authorize curfews "wherever it is necessary," he said.

"The multiplying acts of destruction, the destruction of schools and sports centers, thousands of cars set on fire, all of this is unacceptable and inexcusable," he said. "To all in France who are watching me, who are disturbed by this, who are shocked, who want to see a return to normalcy, a return to security, the state's response ? I say it tonight forcefully ? will be firm and just."

Villepin said "organized criminal networks" are backing the violence and youths taking part are treating it as a "game," trying to outdo each other. He did not rule out the possibility that radical Islamists are involved, saying: "That element must not be neglected." France's community of Muslims, at some 5 million, is western Europe's largest.

Local government officials will be able to impose curfews "if they think it will be useful to permit a return to calm and ensure the protection of residents. That is our No. 1 responsibility," the prime minister said.

A Socialist opposition leader, Francois Hollande, said his party would closely watch to make sure the curfew law is applied properly.

"This law cannot be applied everywhere, and it cannot be long-lasting," Hollande said. He said Villepin should have put more emphasis on improving life in tough neighborhoods and said the premier's proposals were vague.

Villepin said he wanted to speed up a $35.5 billion urban redevelopment plan, triple the number of merit scholarships for talented students and offer jobs, training or internships to disadvantaged young people.

"We must offer them hope and a future," he said.

But nearly 600 people were in custody Monday night, and fast-track trials were being used to punish rioters.

France's biggest Muslim fundamentalist organization, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, issued a religious decree against the violence. It prohibited all those "who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others."

The first fatality was identified as 61-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec. He was trying to extinguish a trash can fire Friday at his housing project in the northeastern Paris suburb of Stains when an attacker caught him by surprise and beat him into a coma, police said.

"They have to stop this stupidity," his widow, Nicole, told Associated Press Television News of the rioting. "It's going nowhere."


Associated Press Writers John Leicester, Angela Doland and D'Arcy Doran contributed to this report from Paris.

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If your French, you believe

by Surflover In reply to 2nd class

that ALL cultures (not just the US) are to be envious :^O

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Of what?

by Ldyosng In reply to If your French, you belie ...

Eating snails and smelly cheese and wearing leather that holds the fetid stench of the perpetually unbathed?! YUK!!

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Deaths of 2 kids

by Montgomery Gator In reply to The first fatality

The two kids in question died because they were runining from the police and ran into a power substation, where they were accidentally electrocuted. Therefore, the people are rioting because two kids were criminals running from the law, and were stupid enough to run into a dangerous place where they got electrocuted. I have no sympathy for the rioters. They are acting like thugs, and are standing up for criminals instead of for law and order.

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don't understand that

by antuck In reply to Deaths of 2 kids

That is one thing I have always questioned. When running from the police, stop. If you keep running then expect what happens to you. Don't scream back the police had no right doing what they did.

I also don't understand the rioting because of this either. The same has been here in the US that these riots start over somthing stupid. Now in France, as has been here in the US, people who don't have much, burn what little they have to the ground. That just doesn't make any sense at all.

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as much sense

by Dr Dij In reply to don't understand that

as bombing subways. now there's the real power base, the people who take the subway to work..

(Thx Daily Show)

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But, but, but

by Ldyosng In reply to Deaths of 2 kids

They're VICTIMS, please be understanding while they destroy what little they have in the name of rage. (yeah, right)
I wonder how much money the Red Cross/US Government/name-your-favorite-victim-support-organization is going to be asked to pay to repair the damage caused by the riot.

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I wouldn't worry about that at all

by neilb@uk In reply to But, but, but

Trust me, us long-suffering members of the EU will have to foot the bill. Anyway, you guys have enough to pay for in sweeping up the rubble in Iraq.

Seriously, though, I'm interested in how you think any US agency or funding body is likely to be involved at all. How p:ssed you all are with the French for being right about Iraq is pretty evident in most of the posts in this forum so I think that funds for the French from the US will be in pretty short supply.

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by JamesRL In reply to I wouldn't worry about th ...

Red Cross is international(home base is Switzerland), not American, and as far as I understand only has a mandate to deal with natural disasters and similar catastrophes. AFAIK the US doesn't provide France with any aid.

I am sure the EU will end up paying for something, if not reparations, perhaps contribute to the education plan proposed by Villepain.

I too think this preoccupation with France can be a bit much. In the late 60s Charles De Gaulle stood on a balcony in Quebec and declared "Vivre le Quebec Libre" or "Long Love Free Quebec", something thast clearly bouyed separatists. We didn't think all people from France supported that notion and we dismissed the statement as the ravings of someone who has always been a bit loony. Similarly France pulled out of NATO in the 60s to show their own independance, but they did eventually rejoin.


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Much more than that Neil

by jdclyde In reply to I wouldn't worry about th ...

The WMD was not the first time France was see for what they are and it won't be their last.

Short supply? You bet.

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JD, you can't dislike them as much as we do!

by neilb@uk In reply to Much more than that Neil

For the last several hundred years we've either been fighting them or saving their sorry backsides when someone else takes a dislike to them.

I don't really know why you (the US) have the down on them, though. They were right about WMDs and you and we haven't found any (and wont!) and I suppose that no-one likes a smartarse.

Just my deux centimes worth

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