The Tar Pit

Friday, November 04, 2005

Middle East coverage of Muslim riots in France

A round-up of the sparse coverage in the Middle Eastern world of the Muslim riots in Paris...

This story at Islam Online is shocking on several levels:

The riots have also taken on an increasingly dangerous tone, with buckshot fired at riot squad vans -- and prosecutors revealing that a handicapped woman was deliberately set on fire the night before.

According to prosecutors Friday, November 4, the 56-year-old woman was unable to get off a bus targeted by a Molotov cocktail late Wednesday, November 2, in the northern Paris suburb of Sevran.

She was allegedly doused with petrol by one youth, then others threw a flaming rag on her. Rescued by the driver, she was taken to hospital with severe burns to 20 percent of her body.

The rioting -- sparked last week by the deaths by electrocution of two young immigrants who hid in an electrical sub-station in the northeast neighborhood of Clichy-sous-Bois to escape a police identity check, is the worst France has seen since the first troubles broke out in deprived high-immigration neighborhoods in the late 1980s.

Those responsible are sons of families from France's former Arab and African colonial territories, who have said in interviews that they are protesting economic misery, racial discrimination and provocative policing.

Since this poor woman was only "allegedly" dowsed with petrol, which presumably caused her "alleged burns," Islam Online sees fit to note the victims status and grievances of savages who tried to burn her to death.

Michelle Malkin blogs on this atrocity here.

Odd, Islam Online doesn't menton the religious affiliation of the assailants, but Al Jazeera has identical talking points about the Muslim rioters in general:

The country has 751 neighbourhoods officially classed as severely disadvantaged, housing a total of five million people, around 8% of the population.  

Conditions are often dire with high-rise housing, unemployment at twice the national rate of 10% and per capita incomes 40% below the national average.  

Many of France's estimated five million Muslims live in those suburbs.

The rioting was sparked by the accidental deaths last week of two teenagers who hid in an electrical sub-station to escape a police identity check.

It's the worst urban violence France has seen since rioting in deprived high-immigration neighbourhoods in the late 1980s.

Those responsible are groups of young Muslim men, the sons of families from France's former Arab and African colonial territories, who have said in interviews that they are protesting against economic misery, racial discrimination and provocative policing.

Isn't that a remarkable coincidence?

In the Gulf Daily News of Bahrain, we see more beating around the bush:

PARIS: Authorities in France struggled yesterday to bring order to rundown suburbs around Paris after a week of night-time rioting that has spread across the region and called into question the government's handling of the crisis. More than 1,000 police wielding shields and teargas grenades overnight battled stone- and bottle-throwing youths in at least nine suburbs, while cars went up in flames in 13 others to the north, east, west and south of Paris.

Four gunshots were fired at riot squads, but missed their targets, according to police, who used rubber bullets when they felt threatened by advancing mobs. Nine people were injured in the fighting.

In one northeastern suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, a police station was briefly taken over and ransacked by youths while a gymnasium and a Renault garage were set ablaze and a shopping centre vandalised.

South of Paris, in Antony, two firebombs were thrown at a police station.

All of the areas are high-immigrant zones dominated by depressing public housing estates, where crime and gangs run rampant.

Gulf News of the United Arab Emirates equates rioting with protesting:

Bobigny, France: Rioters set fire to more than 500 cars overnight in an eight straight night of street violence in Paris where 78 people have been arrested, officials said on Friday.

Overnight rioting left also left a trail of burnt shops in northern and earstern parts of Paris as rioters, many of them Muslims of North African origin, protested against racial bias.

In continuing violence on Friday, fire bombings hit western Paris suburbs and similar areas near Rouen in northern France, Dijon in the east and Marseille in the south.

Arab News of Saudi Arabia had a surprising editorial:

Editorial: Trouble in Paris

President Chirac was quite right to warn yesterday that France faced a dangerous situation after a sixth night of rioting in Parisian suburbs largely inhabited by immigrants. Mercifully, no one has been killed in the disturbances but cars and buildings have been gutted and the already fragile relations between the police and the people have been further damaged.

Many different threads have come together to produce this knot of community tension. The immediate cause of the first riot, the electrocution of two North African youths allegedly fleeing police, unleashed wider grievances among immigrants who feel themselves disadvantaged and ignored by the French state. Poor schooling, bad housing and a lack of jobs create alienated youths and gang cultures where violence is never far from the surface.

Nevertheless, such difficult social circumstances are not unique to immigrant communities in Paris. Local leaders and the young people themselves must bear some responsibility for their hopeless lives. Certainly nothing can justify their going on destructive rampages.

See that? No justification for the riots. Wow.

But... wait for it... the all too predictable caveat:

That said, the French authorities seem to have inflamed rather than calmed tempers. The use of the CRS anti-riot police has clearly worsened the troubles. This force has been deployed because Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is playing the "zero tolerance" card on public disorder. His pronouncements have been hardly less severe. He has called the rioters "scum." Unfortunately this approach also hits at perfectly law-abiding immigrants within the capital's grumbling suburbs and thus only adds another general sense of grievance.

Right. Using riot police against rioters is inflammatory. Perhaps when things calm down, Saudi security authorities can provide training for French LEOs in the restrained use of force.

Middle East Online hasn't covered the riots, but in the midst of them they covered this:

Paris square named after Ben Barka

PARIS - A square in central Paris on Monday was named after the Moroccan dissident Mehdi Ben Barka, at the spot where he was picked up by French police 40 years ago, never to be seen again.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe presided at the ceremony on the Boulevard Saint Germain, south of the Seine river in the city's sixth district, unveiling a plaque in Ben Barka's name in the presence of his widow and four children.

"Paris does itself justice when it manages to look back at its history with a concern for the truth," Delanoe said.

Are you listening, France?