Monday, November 07, 2005

France brûlee

Riots have spread to 300 cities. The French government finally authorizes curfews. (Having lived through sectarian riots [communal riots in Indian parlance], I was wondering why curfews weren't imposed earlier. Didn't know there neded to be national government authorization for this. And, I guess, the French aren't used to this kind of civil breakdown) The first AP story reports that churches have been burned in two towns. A 61-year old man was beaten severely and succumbed to his injuries, the first fatality. Apparent copycat arsons have been reported from Brussels and Berlin, with worries of a continent wide conflagration (love the headline, "Intifada Spreads to Brussels and Berlin". Ouch.)

There seems to be two general ways of viewing this (as I've mentioned earlier). I'll phrase them in terms of Intifada (Eurafada, Jihadist uprising, Islam-fascist uprising, Eurabian civil war), which emphasizes the religion of the perpetrators, within a "decline-and-fall of Western Civilization" overarching narrative and "social fracture" ("Fracture urbaine" is the title of Le Monde's editorial, and calls upon M. Chirac to not just talk about healing this, but to do something about it. A bit late, eh?), and seems to be well represented in the MSM. The Economist's online summary is in this vein as well.

Examples of the former are found mainly in the blogosphere, and in some conservative columnists, such as Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Wake up Europe, you have a war on your hands." The Brussels Journal reports in this vein.

It's interesting, the role of technology (as Corey pointed out in the comments below) in fueling this. Le Monde reports that three young people have been arrested for apparently inciting revolt via a blog (if I've understood the French correctly).

The WSJ has an interesting story on moderate Muslim groups that might be able to act as mediators between the state and rioters. The story just seems to underline the sense of isolation and separateness of the ghettoized banlieus. It's no wonder that the Brussels Journal compares them to the Ottoman millet system.

This is absolutely huge. And whatever the underlying cause, this represents a huge failure for European social policy, and threatens the stability of the continent. And could well fulfill Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" prophecy.

Le Monde's reporters went out and spent the night with some rioters. Here's what they (the "youths") said:

"Si un jour on s'organise, on aura des grenades, des explosifs, des kalachnikovs... On se donnera rendez-vous à la Bastille et ce sera la guerre" , menacent-ils.

[If one day we're organized, we will have grenades, explosives, Kalashnikoves. We will have a rendezvou with the Bastille. And this will be war."]

"On a plus de révolte que de haine"

[We're more about revolt then hate]

1 comment:

assiniboine said...

Mark Steyn is very certain of his verdicts and one has to assume that his continued success in finding audiences has much more to do with his self-assurance than the tightness of his reasoning. Certainly nothing to do with his historical sense. Oh for the greatly lamented Mordecai Richler, his fellow Quebec-Jewish commentator, who was always able to take the long view of things. The comparison between the barricades of Paris today and the Battle of Poitiers and the characterisation of marginalised minorities' impotent rage as a clash of civilisations is ludicrous as well as mischievous. Watts and Detroit in 1968 is more like it. Bombay a few years back will also do.