France has always been a indicator of social change. From the support of the fledgling U.S. against the tyranny of the British to the burning of the Bastille, she has always been a sort of harbinger of what is to come. As riots take her streets and her leaders show thier impotence by being unable to quell this uprising of spirit, the world should take notice and be aware that things are changing. The meek are no longer to stand idly by while they are asked to sacrifice everything and given nothing in return. Wake up world, everything is about to change again…..
Chirac vows order as French riots spread
PARIS (Reuters) –
President Jacques Chirac on Sunday vowed to restore order in France after riots in Paris spread across the country and began to unnerve his European neighbors.
“The Republic is quite determined, by definition, to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear,” Chirac said after a special domestic security council met to respond to the latest violence in which 1,300 vehicles went up in flames.
“The law must have the last word,” Chirac said in his first public comments since the riots started in the poor suburbs, noting the importance of the respect of all, the law and the equality of chances.
Signs of a fresh wave of violence emerged on Sunday evening when youths seized a bus in Saint-Etienne, in southern France, ordering passengers to get off and then torching the vehicle.
The driver and one passenger were hurt, officials said.
In Rouen, in the north, rioters pushed a burning car against a police building. No-one was hurt, police said. Cars were also burned in the cities of Nantes, Rennes and Orleans, media said.
Chirac’s government is struggling to cope with an explosion of unrest with complex social, economic and racial causes.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the government would step up security wherever necessary. Some 2,300 extra officers have already been drafted in.
“We cannot accept any ‘no-go’ areas,” Villepin said after meeting Chirac, adding he would announce his plans for the country’s underprivileged suburbs on national television on Monday.
Rioting began 10 days ago with the accidental electrocution of two youths apparently fleeing police. Their deaths ignited frustration among ethnic minorities over racism, unemployment, police treatment and their marginal place in French society.
“This is too much, stop!” sobbed a woman in Evreux, a normally quiet town in rural Normandy where a shopping mall, 50 vehicles, a post office and two schools were destroyed.
“FRANCE IS NOT BURNING”
Across France, 1,300 vehicles went up in flames overnight. For the first time, more than 30 were destroyed inside the city walls of Paris. Previously quiet towns such as Dreux, to the west, and the city of Nantes were also affected.
Police said 349 people had been arrested, including six youths caught stockpiling 90 Molotov cocktails in a disused police building south of Paris.
Despite the worst destruction since the riots started, a police spokesman called for a sense of proportion: “It’s 211 districts out of 36,000, so France is not burning.”
Authorities say drug traffickers and Islamist militants are helping to organize the unrest, via the Internet and mobile phones, among the North and sub-Saharan African immigrant communities who make up a significant part of many suburban housing estates.
The violence has tarnished France’s image abroad, forcing Villepin to cancel a trip to Canada, while Russia and the United States have warned their citizens to avoid troubled suburbs.
Neighboring Germany, too, has a large immigrant population, including over 3 million Muslims — most of Turkish origin.
Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy leader of the conservative Christian Democrats in parliament, said Germany should be under no illusion that similar events could happen there too.
In Italy, opposition leader Romano Prodi called on the government to take urgent action, telling reporters:
“We have the worst suburbs in Europe. I don’t think things are so different from Paris. It’s only a question of time.”
Jean-Marie Huet, a senior Justice Ministry official, said 160 people had been brought before the courts since the unrest started. Around 20 had been jailed, 30 others released on bail, and 50 minors had been brought before juvenile courts.
French Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande said the riots were a failure of government policy and leadership. Communist and Green Party officials demanded Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who wants to run for president in 2007, resign over remarks opponents say stoked the violence.
(Additional reporting by Brian Rohan, Astrid Wendlandt, Kerstin Gehmlich and Jon Boyle in Paris, Paul Carrel in Evreux)