Saturday, November 05, 2005

"What You Need Is Appeasement"

France's disaster is now ten days old. (photo credit) Apparently, French authorities have no clue what to do. Things continue to deteriorate, the "rioters" growing increasingly bold . . . and sophisticated:
The rioters have also started using motorbikes and mobile phones to trace the movements of police riot squads, in tactics reminiscent of urban guerrilla movements.

"Each night we turn this place into Baghdad", says one masked youth in Sevran near Paris. As a political statement, there have been better - but these riots seem to be more aimed at the television cameras than the National Assembly.

* * *

"Why did they set my car on fire, why mine?" asks one young man as he watches it go up in flames. He knows the perpetrators, he says. They're neighbours of his, but he refuses to name them.

"These are our kids," says Mohammed Rezzoug.
Kids? As for turning the streets into Baghdad, these "kids" are beginning to make Baghdad look like a safe zone. Far from being Paris Riots, the area of violence continues to widen:
Far-flung corners of France were hit by violence Saturday, from Rouen in Normandy to Bordeaux in the southwest to Strasbourg near the German border, although the Paris region has borne the brunt. In quiet Acheres, on the edge of the St. Germain forest west of the capital, arsonists torched a nursery school, where part of the roof caved in, and about a dozen cars in four attacks over an hour that the mayor said seemed "perfectly organized."
What's the latest word on how to address the growing threat to French civil society? Although it's hard to be shocked, it appears that something approaching capitulation is being urged upon the French government.
During the day hundreds of people joined marches in Paris suburbs to protest against the violence.
In Aulnay-sous-Bois, which has seen some of the worst of the rioting, residents walked past burnt out vehicles and buildings with banners reading "No to violence" and "Yes to dialogue". Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met eight key ministers and the head of the Paris mosque, Dalil Boubakeur. After the meeting, Mr Boubakeur urged a change in tone from the government. "What I want from the authorities, from Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime minister and senior officials are words of peace," he said. Mr de Villepin has been holding a series of meetings with public figures and ordinary people from the affected areas as he seeks an end to the crisis.
Let's see. How does one answer rampant violence and destruction of property? With meetings, marches, placards and words of peace, of course! The only French official to so far show a set -- Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy -- "is said by many to have aggravated the situation." (photo credit) Good grief. Given that this is France, the question simply must be put: How long before abject surrender? Well, if the (apparently craven) Equal Opportunities Czar has his way, not too bloody long:
Azouz Begag, the junior minister for equal opportunities and the only member of the government who grew up in one of those apartment blocks, immediately criticised Sarkozy's words. “You cannot tell the youths they're thugs. You cannot tell them you are going to go after them and send in the riot police. What you need is appeasement,” he said.
Yes. Appeasement. A frickin' parody of itself, no? Sunday's New York Times recognizes the somewhat squalid -- and widely held (within France and other European countries) -- sentiment that France has only itself to blame:
The government has been embarrassed by its inability to quell the disturbances, which have called into question its unique integration model, which discourages recognizing ethnic, religious or cultural differences in favor of French unity. There is no affirmative action, for example, and religious symbols, like the Muslim veil, are banned in schools.

"The republican integration model, on which France has for decades based its self-perception, is in flames," the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung declared. An editorial in Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung called the violence around Paris an "intifada at the city gates," a reference to the anti-Israeli uprising by Palestinians.

So there it is. It's France's fault for maintaining a policy -- a "unique" policy -- that seeks to promote French unity. Note also that things have gotten so bad in France that the Germans are able to get away with advising on minority relations strategies. What a world.

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