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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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The title doesn't come to mind

by JamesRL In reply to JD, you can't dislike the ...

But I read a great book that was somewhat fictional, somewhat based on real experience about a young British man who lands a job with a Paris company. The book explores in humourous detail the culture shock and British perspective on how life goes on in Paris. After a year, he leaves Paris to return to London, a little wiser.


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My issue with France

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

Has nothing to do with Iraq. It has to do with Viet Nam. Always will.
And since we are "allies" with France, I won't be the slightest bit surprised if we are asked in some way to support their growing Civil Unrest issues.
BTW - According to reports, The American Red Cross provides over 25% of the funding for the International Red Cross. That's a pretty big chunk of American change, in my opinion.

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I still don't see it

by neilb@uk In reply to My issue with France

The Red Cross, international or otherwise, is not contributing to the French and has not been asked so where's the problem?

The EU has already pledged France 50 Million Euro aid as a result of the Riots. Apparently, up to a billion Euros might be offered to alleviate the conditions that "caused" the riots.

That's my money. Not yours. I would have thought that you - the US - would be the last to be asked and the last to contribute. I don't see that you have any reason to b:tch about it.

As for Viet Nam, the same Vietminh partisan fighters whipped their French butts as they subsequently did yours - and probably would anybody's. Don't you Americans know any history?

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by jdgretz In reply to I still don't see it

Most of us older types know a lot of history - US and World.

Follow the money around Viet Nam - especially along the beautiful western edge where the rubber plantations are/were - just which French company owns/owned them???

Beautiful country - miserable conflict run by accountants who had no clear military objective and would not let the military do what it knows how to do best. And yes, I spent two tours there as a helicopter pilot, so I do have some first hand knowledge about the country and that particular time.

Want to see my Second Place award for the South East Asian War Games???

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JDGretz: I overreacted a bit...

by neilb@uk In reply to I still don't see it

I was getting a bit miffed both with Ldyosng wittering on about the French and the fact that it's going to be some of my money taken to pay for their idiot policies. As if I don't pay enough for their bloody farmers!

Considering the historical knowledge posessed by most of my countrymen, I should keep a low profile...

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US History 101 +

by Ldyosng In reply to I still don't see it

One little thing I do know about history is that the last useful thing the French did, as far as I am concerned, is to support us in throwing the English out of our country a few hundred years ago. I'm grateful for that.
As for the rest, well, any group of people who were known at court for pissing on their own dining room floors and having the smelliest palaces in Europe, well, I guess that doesn't count, eh?
And here's a little reading tip for you: When the statement is "I wonder how much ... will be asked to pay", it a question about possible future outcomes, not a complaint about something that has already happened.

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European history for beginners

by neilb@uk In reply to I still don't see it

Seen from another perspective...

Firstly, we were glad to see the back of some of you. The "Pilgrim Fathers" were, if you really dig deep, a pack of whining overly-religious Lincolnshire bumpkins. They weren't "persecuted" - just nobody wanted them around.

I've noticed that The War of Independence plays a hugely important part in your country's ideology. We,also, tend to overemphasize some key parts of our history, Spanish Armada, Waterloo, etc. I do notice, though, that references to the War of Independence are especially prone to exaggeration and oversimplification.

I notice that there are some things that don't surface in the popular depictions (The Patriot? with that tosser, Mel Gibson). The first that it was a civil war. I believe - correct me if I'm wrong - that perhaps 100,000 loyalists fled abroad at its end - The Land of the Free?. The second, that the Americans would probably not have won without French help. (You did it again in 1812, didn't you? Hung on the French coat-tails).

As for French hygiene? I don't think it's got anything to do with anything. Still, visit Paris in the height of summer and travel on the Metro!

John the Fearless - in the 1400's - had a toilet that enjoyed all the facilities that the technology of the day had to offer. A padded seat, chimney heating and a system of air circulation for odour combat. Cleanliness in Mediaeval France was the norm.

It was later that a different mentality arrived which feared exposure to air and water, and believed the body's goodness had to be heavily protected from outside elements. In the court of the Sun King in Versailles for example courtiers were reduced to squatting in corners because of the lack of facilities. In the early 20th century Parisian women were renowned for their foul odour, which they covered up with copious amounts of perfume.

Nothing has changed much since then.

Finally - and yes, I spotted the tense. Istill don't see what possible set of circumstances surrounding these riots could possible bring about the necessity for any American to have to pay anything unless they wanted to.


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the necessity?

by Ldyosng In reply to I still don't see it

In the charming Republic of The United States of America, individual citizens having a choice in how our money is spent by our government is mythology. I, for one, am a Jeffersonian - currently known as Libertarian. I think pretty much all of the current government sucks, and would just as soon see every single incumbent voted out of office, but since politics in this country is a matter of finance and marketing, there is precious little chance of that any time soon.
That being said, I disagree with many of the financial policies of my government because I prefer a free-market economy, the separation of church and state, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of expression, and a number of other rights that are guaranteed to me in my constitution and overridden by the judiciary.
I have paid my hard-earned money to finance a lot of things with which I disagree, and the money that has been taken out of my pay to support my retirement for the last 32 years has already been so spent by gready and stupid politicians that there is a strong chance it won't actually be there in another 30 years when I retire.
My comment about how much more of my money my government is going to ship out of my homeland to support pet projects beyond our borders rather than rebuild the roads, levees or power grid here at home, or perhaps to re-instate trade schools, rather than the idiotic notion that every American should have a college education, regardless of inate capability is a reaction to the frustration of being fiscally screwed on an on-going basis.
If my government thinks it's a good idea to pour money into the coffers of some third-world tyrent in order to gain a foothold, they will do it. If they think it's a good idea to spend money oversees on projects that will gain them some sort of political advantage while battered women and children sleep in cars and cardboard boxes here at home, they will.
As to knowing world history - no. It isn't taught in our schools. Neither are foreign languages, music, art or gentility. Nor how to balance a check book, not get pregnant, nor how to treat others kindly. Our education system prepares us to go to school until we get our business degrees and start working in corporate America. It's not what I voted for, but it's what I have. My only recourse is to continue to vote FOR what I believe in and AGAINST the things I oppose. But that is no guarantee that I will get what I want, only that I had a chance to be heard.
I love my country, but I neither like nor trust my government.
I am NOT "the US." I am AN American. There is a huge difference.

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Rant away. You'll feel much better afterwards...

by neilb@uk In reply to I still don't see it

I think that we are having a discussion at right-angles to one another. What you are saying doesn't have anything at all to do with the French.

France isn't, despite your prejudices, a Third World country. There seems to be an unjustified hatred of the US towards the French generally - as is shown in this thread - so there is no way that your government is going to spend any of your money to help the French. It would be just too much of a vote-loser. Anyway, the French wouldn't take it when they know that they have as much finance as they want just over their borders or over the Channel.

Keep your money. Rebuild (build properly, this time?) your levees. Invade Iran. Do whatever you want but leave France alone.

They're ours to hate. We hated them first. We hate them the most.


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Neil and the frogs

by jdclyde In reply to I still don't see it

"There seems to be an unjustified hatred of the US towards the French generally"

Hmmm, kind of like how many countries are towards the US?

But I guess that is different, huh?

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