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What the hell is going on in France?
November 1, 2005 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: Rioting continues in the suburbs of Paris. In Clichy-Sous-Bois, a predominantly (80%) North African muslim banlieu of about 28,000 people, night battles have been raging (video) between youths and the police after two muslim youths died by electrocution while they thought the police were chasing them, a charge the police denies. That was 5 nights ago. Since then, 27 people have been arrested, 3 convicted, numerous cars destroyed and property damaged, and 23 police officers wounded in street battles involving "up to several hundred" participants. The muslim community now accuses the police of firing tear gas into a mosque, and things look far from calming down. These tensions are hardly confined to Paris, however - In Lyon, 800 cars have been burned in "low level" violence this year; Across France, 9,000 police cars have been "stoned" this year, and 20-40 cars are destroyed a night (!!!), according to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. I knew that relations between "the French" and the "Beurs" were somewhat less than pleasant, but am I the only one that was unaware that France has been in a state of low-level but direct civil and religious war for the last few years?
posted by loquax (80 comments total)

 
"...am I the only one that was unaware that France has been in a state of low-level but direct civil and religious war for the last few years?"

It's possible. Or maybe you were aware it was going on but not the extent to which it is.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2005


I was about to apologize for the translations, but I just realized some pages are translated and some aren't, so sorry about that, not sure why it didn't work for all of them. The links from Le Monde provide far more context and background than the links from non-French sources, which barely mention the underlying tensions. Also, I really hope the numbers that Sarkozy cites are somehow incorrect, otherwise I feel like a fool for underestimating the problems in France, and disappointed in non-French media for not even mentioning anything on this scale.
posted by loquax at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2005


I love that 'tear gas' was translated as 'lachrymatory bomb'!
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:31 PM on November 1, 2005


...disappointed in non-French media...

I often watch British news reports and they've had, at least, small mentions of the ongoing turmoil. Nothing at all in my regular newscasts from US and Canadian media.

The bigger question is...why are we letting the media get away with being complicit in the coverup of vital events? I hear -much- more about Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher than I do about events in my own town, province and country, unless I actively seek out only those news stories. What I find when I do is incredible sparse and shoddy reporting.

Expand that to the utter lack of reporting on serious world events and it becomes very clear that the media is absolutely awful at what it claims is its job.

Where is the citizen's group that's fighting against media patheticness? Or do I not know that answer because the media refuses to cover them?
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:36 PM on November 1, 2005


I had no idea. Nice job American Media.

BTW. What is wrong with people? I know the North Africans in France get fucked over...but jeebus. Calm down.

It's like when black kids rioted during that Klan march here and burned down and looted their own fucking houses and businesses.

Note to dipshit rioters: Go to the rich peoples neighborhood. THEN riot.
posted by tkchrist at 12:36 PM on November 1, 2005


a state of low-level but direct civil and religious war for the last few years?

on the other hand, Paris' levees are still holding.
posted by matteo at 12:38 PM on November 1, 2005


I remember hearing a lot about the race-riots in england a couple years ago.
posted by delmoi at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2005


Actually, it seems to be a problem across Europe right now. I was listening to the BBC today podcast on race relations (came out either yesterday or today) and they mentioned some riots in Birmingham, UK too. The two stories seem somewhat related.

The problem, at least in France, is one of definition. For decades (if not centuries), French has prided itself on being culture and color blind. The myth was holding OK as long as a majority of the population was catholic and mostly white. However, as more and more first generation French people, mostly the kids of people from former French colonies, are becoming part of the French populace, tensions have grown. It started in the 80s (I was a kid then and remember there was a group called "SOS Racisme" which was fighting racism) but, at the time, tensions were not as high. The clash between muslim and catholic has intensified in recent years. It's a hard issue and I, as a French person, actually have a hard time figuring out on which side of the issue to stand.

BTW, a note on the posts itself (although you didn't know better), "Beurs" is a very racist term, similar to the N word when used for African-Americans.
posted by TNLNYC at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2005


Oh, whoops, apologies. You're right, I had no idea. It would have been nice if that wikipedia article mentioned that. Odd that they would call a restaurant that.
posted by loquax at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2005


It may seem odd but I think it was done out of cooptation. It's been a long time since I lived in France (20 years in December) . I just did a bit of research on it afterwards and it turns out that young french people of arabic heritage have indeed coopted it in the early 90s and it has started to seep into more traditional media lately. Sorry for my wagging finger :)
posted by TNLNYC at 1:01 PM on November 1, 2005


Wow, I really need to get my head out of the sand more often, this is extreme stuff.

I'm amazed that this is truly the first I've heard or read about this. Thanks for the newsfilter.
posted by fenriq at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2005


The clash between muslim and catholic has intensified in recent years

Is it really a religious thing on the Caucasian side, though? I had thought that most of the Caucasians there were Catholic in name only for the most part. If so, isn't it more accurate to look at this as a cultural or racial battleground as opposed to a religious one?
posted by unreason at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2005


"BTW, a note on the posts itself (although you didn't know better), "Beurs" is a very racist term, similar to the N word when used for African-Americans."

Err, not that I know of. Even the French Wikipedia page about "Beur" says "Ce sont des mots d'argot qui ne portent pas en soi de connotations péjoratives."
The phrase "Black Blanc Beur" is even often used to denote how well we should all live together...
posted by XiBe at 1:18 PM on November 1, 2005


unreason: I think it is more a question of maintaining a central definition of what is means to be "French" -- that happens to be defined by Paris (from centuries back) so it would seem to have race/religion wrapped up in it. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French has some interesting things to say about this topic. (The title makes the book sound like it will be yet another comic take on why etrangers love France but it is actually a serious account on what makes modern France tick.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:38 PM on November 1, 2005


unreason: it is, to some extent, a religious thing. France is not as extreme as the United States when it comes to religion but one cannot ignore the fact that it has been a catholic country for the better part of two millenia. Some early outburst, like the Dreyfus Affair showed that France can be very intolerant of minor religious groups. As a larger part of the population is non-catholic, this is creating some issues in terms of defining "the french character."

The other problem is that there is also a fair amount of racism and class issues involved here. The suburbs where those riots have been happening are poorer with a much higher unemployment rate than more integrated areas. The problem grows even bigger when you realize that it's not an issue of arabs vs. french but french vs. french. The people involved on both sides are french by birth and therefore should be considered equal but that's not really the case.

This year, inequalities seem to have been taking more of the forefront. Earlier this years, two major fires in poor areas of Paris highlighted the plight of French people of African origin. This led to some level of rioting. The events of the last week are more of a continuation of this.

There is, however, a silver lining apparently. Last night's riots were smaller than the previous night and Dominique de Villepin (yes, the same guy who was at the UN and is now prime minister of France) is trying to mediate things.
posted by TNLNYC at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2005


Time for everyone to go rent La Haine, and not just for the awesome directing.
posted by furtive at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2005


Note to dipshit rioters: Go to the rich peoples neighborhood. THEN riot.

Don't do that in America. The cops will just mow you down with artillery, claim they were justified for some fabricated reason, and the media will accept it without an ounce of cynicism. But if you trash your own neighborhood the cops will just watch.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:09 PM on November 1, 2005


The issue of Muslim integration has been a tough road to hoe for many in Europe.


4 Muslims alleged to plan Europe terror attack
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Police arrested four Danish Muslims Thursday on suspicion of belonging to a terror network planning a suicide attack in Europe, officials said.

The suspects, all males between 16 and 20 years old, were ordered held in jail while police investigate the allegations, police spokesman Joern Bro said.

He said at a news conference that the network had planned to carry out the suicide attack in Europe. 'It seems the plan was going into a closing phase,' said Bro, declining to provide further details.



Year after murder, Netherlands on edge
With Egyptian mangos and Surinamese prawns stacked alongside Dutch cheeses, the vast open-air Hague Market and its crowds of immigrant shoppers are a multicultural picture that used to make the Netherlands proud. Today, a year after the gruesome murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist, pride has given way to tension and suspicion.

Van Gogh was shot, stabbed and nearly decapitated Nov. 2, 2004, because of a film that 27-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutchman born to Moroccan parents, regarded as insulting to Islam. In the month of violent reactions that followed, authorities counted 174 bias attacks, 47 of them on mosques and 13 on Christian churches.

"You can still feel the difference on the streets," said Marc Verwaal, 17, an ethnic Dutchman on neighborhood watch in the immigrant neighborhood around the Hague Market. "There is more tension and people are on edge."



New Islam in an old English town
Over the past 30 years, immigrants poured into Leicester - and were welcomed thanks to the progressive policy of city elders, who convinced local people of the value of a multicultural future. The newcomers established peaceful lives, turning Leicester into a model for the rest of Europe of a mixed city that works.

Yet Leicester is now being challenged by troubling new dynamics, officials admit, one of which is a growing Muslim assertiveness. The city's success with multiculturalism is being put to the test by ethnic tensions between Muslims and Hindus, fresh Muslim immigration from countries like Somalia and Bosnia, and a simmering resentment among the city's poor white groups toward the immigrants. This last factor has assumed a darker meaning in Britain's charged atmosphere since the Islamist terrorist bombings in London in July




Leicester, Copenhagen, Paris & Amersterdam being just four European examples. Sad.

This has been on CNN's front page plenty in the last 24 hours, btw.
posted by jenleigh at 2:13 PM on November 1, 2005


This has been on CNN's front page plenty in the last 24 hours, btw.

But in a totally different context than how the French papers are presenting it, speaking only of "youths" and "socialist" criticisms of Sarkozy's policies.
posted by loquax at 2:21 PM on November 1, 2005


Cracking post. I knew that there were great big sections of Paris considered no go zones by the police, but had no idea it was at this level, and in other major cities.

Doesn't entirely surprise me, mind - I've spent a good deal of time in rural France and the levels of racism are spectacularly high, at least amongst the blokes propping up the bar in village cafés. As in, 'all gypsies should be shot, immediately' levels of racism. (In the village I stay in, a couple of years back the local gypsy family went away to a wedding for the weekend, and when they returned, their house had been bulldozed, contents and all.)

You'd've thought Paris would be a bit more tolerant than places where the next hamlet along is considered suspiciously foreign, though.
posted by jack_mo at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2005


I hear Sarkozy has bigger ambitions and is purposely playing tough guy, and this is the result. Tear gas in a mosque is completely unacceptable, and i'm not surprised there was a big reaction.
posted by amberglow at 2:35 PM on November 1, 2005


The way I understand it, that tear gas was shot into the mosque is denied by the police, and the event only occured after rioting had begun in response to the deaths of the two teenagers on Thursday, which police also deny having anything to do with.

Sarkozy's detractors accuse him of not being enough of a tough guy, and this being the result.
posted by loquax at 3:04 PM on November 1, 2005


France's problems are somewhat different from the rest of Europe, AFAIK. The culture question has resulted in several consequences, one of which might be seen as a crackdown on religious practice (banning of headscarves in schools, etc), and a guest worker program that does not lead to citizenship, leaving a huge population of disgruntled migrants with no claim to a home.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't compare the French approach to the Dutch, which I think is far more inclusive, at least it was, but they definitely face similar problems.
posted by dreamsign at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2005


> Paris' levees are still holding.

Hee hee. Who's holding 'em? M. le President? I thought levees went out with Louis XIV.


> the media is absolutely awful at what it claims is its job.

Us reactionaries have known that since the first French revolution, citoyen. But the current French situation has been blogged pretty well. I first noticed pertinent links on Instapundit on riot day 2.
posted by jfuller at 3:15 PM on November 1, 2005


La Zone. Seems very pertinent--a situation just heading for a blow-up.

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class.


The French chattering classes have had a very great deal to say over the decades about poverty and racism in America. Now, oops, they've got an angry brown underclass of their very own. We are very interested to see how well they take their own advice (and how well it works.)
posted by jfuller at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2005


There are a lot of racist feelings in France, and I think it will be hard to root out. I was having dinner with some (highly educated, all the right ecoles, etc etc) French in Paris the other week, and I jokingly asked (being American): "Who do you hate more, the American tourists, the English tourists, or the German tourists?"

The answer: "The muslims."
posted by mtstover at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2005


Great post. What furtive said. I immediately thought of La Haine when I read about this earlier today, such a similar story.

I once tried to advance my French by reading "Dans l'enfer des tournantes" by Samira Bellil. Not easy, but what I could understand left me in terror of Parisian suburbs.
posted by fire&wings at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2005


BBC reports the tear gas in the mosque thing as fact: ...Police fired more tear gas overnight to disperse youths confronting them near a mosque in Clichy - the latest focus of concern after a tear gas canister was hurled inside. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2005


jack_mo writes "I knew that there were great big sections of Paris considered no go zones by the police, but had no idea it was at this level, and in other major cities."

As in the police advise people not to go there or is it the police won't go there?
posted by Mitheral at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2005


> "Dans l'enfer des tournantes" by Samira Bellil.

To save others the trouble, that's In Gang-Rape Hell. A discussion of gang-rape in France here.
posted by jfuller at 4:29 PM on November 1, 2005


Mitheral: The police won't go there. At least not without a really good reason and really good numbers.

Yeah, this has been "covered" in detail by the right-wing hate machine blogs -- some of whom seem convinced this is all a replay of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna, or the Battle of Tours. I agree with the general point that there's an overall clash of civilizations, not with the siege mentality. In terms of French choices right now, much of what is happening is a natural result of ghettoization and the crime and independent social structures that ensue from that. France has to create economic opportunity again. Whether eliminating the hopelessness in the banlieus will alleviate all of the ethnic and religious differences, I don't know -- probably not. But it won't be such an all-out battle.
posted by dhartung at 4:56 PM on November 1, 2005


dhartung writes "The police won't go there. At least not without a really good reason and really good numbers."

That's awful, no wonder they're having problems.
posted by Mitheral at 6:37 PM on November 1, 2005


France brought this on itself by colonizing North Africa, like U.S. brought on its own "racial problems" by allowing slavery, conquering half of Mexico, and suckering Asian men into building the railroads. There is a certain merit to the slogan "Next time we'll pick our own damn cotton".
posted by davy at 6:50 PM on November 1, 2005


... Sarkozy recently referred to the troublemakers as "scum" or "riffraff," and in the past vowed to "clean out" the suburbs.

Even within the conservative government, there were critics.

Such "warlike" words would not bring calm, ...

posted by amberglow at 8:01 PM on November 1, 2005


France has to create economic opportunity again.

That and achieve better integration of immigrants... if that's even possible anymore.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:44 PM on November 1, 2005


I think mtstover is right about this. The level of anti-Muslim feeling within the chattering classes is very very high. An example is the irrational fear of Turkish inclusion in the EU, and the reaction of the French elite over time.

On Sharko, as I like to call him, he's a smoke and mirrors opportunist, a pure Thatcherite fucker. And I guess some people would see that as an advantage, I do not.
posted by gsb at 11:20 PM on November 1, 2005


"...am I the only one that was unaware that France has been in a state of low-level but direct civil and religious war for the last few years?"

Yeah, try checking out sites other than LeftFilter and it's ilk.
posted by HTuttle at 11:41 PM on November 1, 2005


Nicolas Sarkozy doesn't care about black people.

/sorry
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:46 PM on November 1, 2005


For more levelheadedness...
I disagree with terms like civil and religious war. This is just not happening. Suburban violence has been going on and off for for a quarter of century now. Also, it is a annoyingly self-conscious phenomenon, so it flares up easily: cars burning in the night make pretty pictures on TV, and the morning car-count by the media encourages the kids to try to top the latest figure. So, while the roots of this are social, a lot of what we see is mostly male hormones doing their usual stupid stuff.

About muslim integration in Europe: I'm sick to death to see local conservatives present it as the Big-failure-that-will-bring-the-end-of-the-Christian-civilisation. They're just walking hand in hand with Muslims extremists for whom integration is an abomination. For people who want to look past the headlines, the fact is that muslim integration is working, slowly, and discreetly. For instance, in Paris, entrepreneurship from people of North African origin is stronger than from local French (more business creations). And while it has been demonstrated (in an official report) that racism keeps many young muslims from getting a job, it doesn't prevent lots of people with a Muslim background to find work in sectors that are a little open-minded, like IT, science (medecine) or law (a phenomenon that gave way to the ugly neologism beurgeoisie). This is already quite visible, absolutely unremarkable, but yeah, it doesn't make headlines.
posted by elgilito at 12:59 AM on November 2, 2005


...two muslim youths died by electrocution while they thought the police were chasing them, a charge the police denies.

Bad puns are us. Do the police deny every coulomb of the charge?
posted by arjuna at 1:00 AM on November 2, 2005


Weird about the youths dying while escaping police thing. A similar situation sparked riots in Sydney's Aboriginal enclave of Redfern last year, when an Aboriginal kid allegedly died fleeing police there, a claim also subsequently denied by the police.

The French situation made the news relatively briefly in Australia tonight, but isn't all news local anyway? As for awareness of the issues in France - it ain't news to me.
posted by Onanist at 4:20 AM on November 2, 2005


Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance...
posted by NewBornHippy at 7:41 AM on November 2, 2005


Why is it that the Muslims seem to be the ones in the middle of trouble everywhere?

Why do we keep blaming the 'white' 'christian' majority, when it's, gasp!, possible that the muslims are creating this problem themselves?

It's not just the responsibility of the hosts to facilitate the integration of the immigrants....immigrants need to do their part as well.
posted by eas98 at 8:20 AM on November 2, 2005


Actually, it seems to be a problem across Europe right now. I was listening to the BBC today podcast on race relations (came out either yesterday or today) and they mentioned some riots in Birmingham, UK too. The two stories seem somewhat related.

Riots are breaking out in Århus, Denmark, too. This blogger translated some reports from Danish media:
"Rosenhøj Mall has several nights in a row been the scene of the worst riots in Århus for years. "This area belongs to us", the youths proclaim. Sunday evening saw a new arson attack.

Their words sound like a clear declaration of war on the Danish society. Police must stay out. The area belongs to immigrants...

He calls himself 100 percent Palestinian, born in a refugee camp in Lebanon 19 years ago, and now out of work in Denmark.

"The police has to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes down here".

And then the bit with the drawings of the prophet Muhammed comes around:

We are tired of what we see happening with our prophet. We are tired of Jyllands-Posten. I know it isnt you, but we wont accept what Jyllands-Posten has done to the prophet", he says aggressively, and the others nod approvingly...

"We have planned this for three weeks. That is why only two were arrested saturday nigh. The police will cordon off it all. But we know the ways out", he claims, and then disappears, munching on a piece of pizza from Fun Pizza.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2005


The subway is still running though, so they're better off then Brooklyn
posted by Mick at 9:54 AM on November 2, 2005


Yes, the trains are running on time, so all's well in Europe...
posted by Asparagirl at 10:29 AM on November 2, 2005


An aside about Paris and violence: our apartment is near the Place de Clichy, a rather lively part of town. Next door to our building is a nightclub which closes early in the morning. Nearly every weekend, when the club-goers are sent out to the street, a fight erupts. Aside from screaming matches, the street has witnessed broken windows, flaming trash cans, physical brawls and, on one occasion, gunfire. The police are never there despite numerous calls from residents and a station around the corner.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:12 PM on November 2, 2005


Actually, it seems to be a problem across Europe right now. I was listening to the BBC today podcast on race relations (came out either yesterday or today) and they mentioned some riots in Birmingham, UK too. The two stories seem somewhat related.

Somewhat related? Emphasis on the 'somewhat' I'd say: the Birmingham riots were caused by a rumour that a West Indian girl had been gang-raped by Asian men at and Asian-owned beauty parlour. Inter-ethnic minority tension isn't really the same thing as what's going on in France. On the plus side, it generated a cracking piece in the Times of India: Post-Birmingham riots, Brown man is a racist? (I should maybe point out that 'Asian' in the UK refers to Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani folk, since it seems to refer more to Chinese/Japanese/Korean folk in the US?)

Why do we keep blaming the 'white' 'christian' majority, when it's, gasp!, possible that the muslims are creating this problem themselves?

Oh, yeah. The disenfranchised, jobless poor who face constant discrimination are always to blame. Just like those uppity niggers you had problems with in the US back in the day, eh? Twat. Sorry, racist twat.
posted by jack_mo at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2005


I blame both the French, who tend to be close-minded and xenophobic, but to a lesser degree, I blame the cultural tendacies of the rioters. And I also blame the alienating top-down EU unification of Europe. THEY SHOULD ALL STEW IN THEIR CONTEMPT FOR AMERICAN NOTIONS OF PLURALISM.

And, by the way, Mick, Brooklyn is a heluva lot more livable a place than most of Paris and its suburbs--Paris has smelly subway platforms, too. But little or no air conditioning!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:50 PM on November 2, 2005


Also, loquax, I salute you for a good post.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:52 PM on November 2, 2005


PP, I've grown accustomed to the increasing quirkiness of your posts, but WTF has the "alienating top-down EU unification of Europe" has to do with the Clichy riots and the terrible state of the French housing projects?

Apart from that, I find it amusing that, in your appreciation of the EU, you appear to coincide with many of the middle-aged male French elite you claim to despise...
posted by Skeptic at 4:17 PM on November 2, 2005


Yes, the trains are running on time, so all's well in Europe...

What's more, I hear trains ran particularly well in the years 1939-1943.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:02 PM on November 2, 2005


...The state prosecutor for Bobigny told the press: “It’s all the more tragic for the fact that they were not delinquents and they had done nothing wrong.” This was a refutation of the initial statements of Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominique deVillepin that the boys had been involved in theft and vandalism.

The lawyer representing the victims’ parents, Jean-Pierre Mignard, asked an essential question: “Why did young people, who were doing no wrong, feel so threatened that they made their way into such a dangerous place?” ...

posted by amberglow at 10:38 PM on November 2, 2005


Dude, krrrlson way to make the reference too obvious
posted by cell divide at 12:48 AM on November 3, 2005


...Sadek, 31, has a secondary school education and aspires to something better. But he knows his options are limited: "With a name like mine, I can't have a sales job."
Telemarketing could be a possibility - his Arab roots safely hidden from view. Of course, he would have to work under an assumed name.
Sadek's story sums up the job prospects of the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants.
They may be French on paper - but they know that Ali and Rachid are much less likely to get ahead than Alain or Richard. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:29 AM on November 3, 2005


"PP, I've grown accustomed to the increasing quirkiness of your posts, but WTF has the "alienating top-down EU unification of Europe" has to do with the Clichy riots and the terrible state of the French housing projects?"

Hey, my posts were always quirky!

Lets just say that neither the EU nor French govenment holds much regard for the rights of minorities, and the individual. Collectivist and majority rules

I am SO glad I don't have to deal with French government or the EU!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:02 AM on November 3, 2005


on the other hand, I have no respect for "Islamic culture," given the way it it even less tolerant than the French for dissent, and the way it subjugates women.

So the French and their Arab youth, tragically, deserve each other--so have fun.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:10 AM on November 3, 2005



Sadek's story sums up the job prospects of the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants.
They may be French on paper - but they know that Ali and Rachid are much less likely to get ahead than Alain or Richard. ...


This may be a silly question, but why do they not change their names if that's all that stands between them and a decent job?

My SO and I have non-english names, and we go by english-sounding approximations of our real names while in the anglosphere - and that's just to save our friends the embarrasment of trying to pronounce our real names.
(You'd be surprised at how many Julies are actually Xhiahus.)

Why don't these guys do the same?

Or is there something besides naming conventions at work here? That would be strange, since there's little visible difference between etnic arabs and, say, etnic southern frenchmen.

Please feel free to flame me for being a racist now.
posted by spazzm at 6:28 AM on November 3, 2005


ethnic, dagnabit.
posted by spazzm at 6:30 AM on November 3, 2005


I guess changing one's name for a job is a common idea. I mean, in the old days it was quite common. Actually, even in the new days. Winona Ryder = Winona Horowitz, for example.
posted by gsb at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2005


Still going...unbelievable.

Police are bracing for another night of violence in the suburbs of Paris after officers and fire crews faced gunfire as they battled rioters who attacked a commuter train and set buses, a school and a car dealership ablaze.


The top government official in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris, where the violence has been concentrated, confirmed that four shots had been fired at police and fire crews in several overnight incidents.

"Four live bullets were fired," Reuters quoted Jean-Francois Cordet as telling reporters.

"Two shots were fired at La Courneuve against police. One shot was fired at Noisy-le-Sec against fire crews, and one shot was fired against fire crew in Saint-Denis."


Whatever caused this, how is it possible that the police cannot restore order after 8 days?

At least it's finally being featured a little more in news sources. Here's a chart of violent acts this year from Le Monde.
posted by loquax at 8:40 AM on November 3, 2005


They have to get rid of Sarkozy immediately--he's pouring gasoline on them: ..."Sarkozy extols 'zero tolerance'," he said. "Well, zero tolerance for Sarkozy then. Zero tolerance for verbal provocation, the disappearance of neighbourhood policing and the absence of any preventive policies. In fact the president of the UMP is obsessed only by his own candidature. He is no longer interior minister, but minister for himself." ...

In a country that prides itself on Liberty, Equality, & Fraternity, it shouldn't at all be necessary to change your name.
posted by amberglow at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2005


> Whatever caused this, how is it possible that the police cannot restore order after 8 days?

They're French police. Don't hire a poodle to do a doberman's job.
posted by jfuller at 3:09 AM on November 4, 2005


Sarkozy? Could France actually have a leader that doesn't hate the Jews?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:59 AM on November 4, 2005


And now the rioting has spread out to the rest of France.

Police say 519 vehicles were burned and 78 people held in the Paris region, in the worst night of riots so far


A 56-year-old disabled bus passenger suffers severe burns when a Molotov cocktail is thrown on board in the northern Sevran suburb

More than 100 firefighters fight a blaze at a carpet warehouse in Aulnay-sous-Bois; another warehouse is also set alight in Le Blanc Mesnil area


Throwing molotov cocktails on buses, a good way to have your point heard.

At least now it seems to be getting a lot more coverage.
posted by loquax at 7:08 AM on November 4, 2005


I wonder how long it will be before the rascist elements in France start retaliating with their own attacks. Truly a shitty situation, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.
posted by unreason at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2005


An excellent point. This is, after all, the country where 20% of the population saw fit to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen for President.

A police union official has proposed establishing a curfew and bringing in the military to help handle the rioting, while some members of the opposition Socialist Party have suggested the police should withdraw from the communities to quell the unrest.

Here's a chronology of events (with pictures at least, for those that can't speak French, for some reason I can't translate the page), and some new and disturbing video.
posted by loquax at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2005


The problem in France come from the high level of the racism against the north africans. I live in Paris, and i'm from North Africa, and i can tell you that it's almost impossible to rent an apartment in in correct neighborhoods Paris when your name is Ahmed or something like this and even when you've a very good salary.

The clubs often deny entrance to people who doesn't look like 'indigenous' . Looking for a job can be a nightmare, even when you are Ph.D. student.

Changing name ? Yes it's a solution, but only if you are lucky and you do not look North african, because changing the name give you the chance to be received for the interview, only to be refused later, so it's worse...

The thing that's i can't understand in France, it's to calling people who are already french "People originating from North africa ('d'origine maghrebine', as they say) ", and this is just for people who make bad things, we never hear "Zinedine Zidane" is 'd'origine maghrebine'. It's like the Tennis champion Yannick Noah, when he used to win was called "The french tennisman .. win" but the days he lost, he became "The french originating from Cameroun lost " !

One month ago, a political refugee "Habib Souadia" was bitten and humiliated.
posted by nims at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2005


nims, thanks for posting, it's interesting to hear from people who are there. What are the paris blogs saying about all this?
posted by cell divide at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2005


Yes, thanks very much. Anything else you can add would be great, my French isn't as good as it used to be and the AP isn't going into much detail.
posted by loquax at 10:07 AM on November 4, 2005


What nims said is correct.

I live in central Paris, near an Arab area (Barbés) and I haven't seen any real trouble here yet. Lots of police though, and gangs of shiftier-than-usual youths. I'm happy that so far the rioters are targetting cars and car dealers, rather than people. If this results in Sarkozy being exposed as the divisive thug he is in time, before he gets elected to President, then a few hundred burnt-out cars (in a rich country of sixty million people) is a price well worth paying.

Nicolas Sarkozy is a very clever, very nasty politician. He's essentially been using the Muslims for years as his pet minority hate group to boost his own popularity among whites - very successfully, from his point of view.

Banning Muslim girls from wearing headscarves is one small example, but there are lots more. Over and over again, in many small ways, Sarkozy and his "moderate" (compared to Le Penn) rightwing supporters have been making life harder for the poor in general, and for the Muslim poor in particular. The police, responding to political pressure, have been stopping and searching Arab-looking people more and more (often abusively). And the rightwing press, as always, is whipping up as much anti-immigrant feeling as they can.

France has always had an active democracy, rather than a passive democracy like the US or UK. In other words, if someone here is angry, they don't write a polite letter to the newspaper - they have a small riot. Usually nobody gets killed - which so far, happily, is the case here too.

But lots of cars get burned, businesses lose money, and so the Government is forced to take notice and to act on people's wishes. It's no accident that France has a good social security system, long holidays, short working hours, and the world's best healthcare. The French workers fought for it, on the streets, time after time. Whenever the Right pushes the French people, they push back.

So this is quite a traditional form of protest here in many ways. It certainly isn't the end of the world - but with any luck, it just might be the end of Sarkozy.
posted by cleardawn at 1:00 PM on November 4, 2005


"Barbès" I mean. And "area with a substantial Arab population" would be more accurate.
posted by cleardawn at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2005


And "area with a substantial Muslim population" would be even better. Apologies.
posted by cleardawn at 1:17 PM on November 4, 2005


"France has always had an active democracy, rather than a passive democracy like the US or UK. In other words, if someone here is angry, they don't write a polite letter to the newspaper - they have a small riot. Usually nobody gets killed - which so far, happily, is the case here too."

France hs always been an immature, quasi-democracy, rather than a mature one like the US or UK. In other words, if someone in France is angry, they have a much smaller chance of converting their anger into political action any time soon. So they stage colorful, yet juvenile street protests to feel better. And their politicians pretend they care. And then they re-elect the same hack politicians again. And again. C'est l'incest, pûr et simple. And foreigners, for example, Americans such as ParisParamus, during college, see this first-hand, and think for a little while that the French are actually more advanced. But they realize, eventually, in sort of a real-life "Being There," that sometimes immaturity+unfamiliarity can look like intelligence, simply because you want it to.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2005


ParisParamus, I don't think it's more advanced. It's just different. The results, too, have both good and bad points.

I agree that quasi-democracy is a good description, of both France and the US. In the US, of course, it's just taken for granted that nobody has any influence on the government apart from lobby groups and big business. The dollar rules (with some help from the Christian and Jewish lobbies).

In France, when the politicians push too far, the street pushes back. Can you see Americans rioting when Bush privatizes their pensions? Of course not. But the French would. Hence the French have better social security systems than the Americans.

Clearly, neither country represents the perfect social democracy.
posted by cleardawn at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2005


irrational fear of Turkish inclusion in the EU

My understanding was that Turkey's human rights abuses is the major source of worry, though I suppose there could very well be racism underlying a lot of supposed concern.

Hmm. Property-directed violence or complete apathy. Yeah, there must be something better.
posted by dreamsign at 9:44 PM on November 4, 2005


Options:

a) Democratic local meetings of informed end empowered citizens, building on a framework of mutual respect and dignity, discussing and deciding on the issues of the day.

b) Torching cars whenever the racist police assaults get too much.

c) Watching the stormtroopers on TV and paying your taxes regular.

A vous de jouer!

(I wish I knew a country that implemented option a)
posted by cleardawn at 5:28 AM on November 5, 2005


My comment is not well documented, i'll prepare a complete documented post talking about the north african situation in France.
posted by nims at 11:53 AM on November 5, 2005


Sarkozy? Could France actually have a leader that doesn't hate the Jews?

*cough*Léon Blum*cough*
posted by Asparagirl at 12:17 PM on November 5, 2005


Dude, krrrlson way to make the reference too obvious

No, see it was a reference to the WWII era and Fasc... oh.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2005


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