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French Riots – Part Deux?

Posted by Admin on June 16, 2008

Well, they’re at it again… Readers here may remember the French riots back in November of 2005 that last for almost 3 weeks. During that time the rioting was perpetrated by dissaffected “youths” – more precisely Muslim “youths” all over France; starting in the Paris suburbs and quickly spreading to outlying towns and cities.

Tonight we receive news that riots are again plaguing Northern France. Approximately 60 cars were burned last night and French police were attacked with baseball bats and molotov cocktails…

Here is the coverage from “Big News Network”:

French Youths Riot in the Streets

Dozens of youths and police have clashed in northern France, leaving nine people injured.

Around 60 cars went up in flames as youths went on a rampage in the streets of Vitry-le-Francois, some 200 kilometres north of the capital Paris.

The youths, armed with baseball bats and Molotov cocktails, were only scattered after dozens of security forces quelled the unrest.

The scuffles broke out after a young man was murdered on Saturday evening.

Reports are slowly coming in giving a little more detail… Following is the coverage from 24News.com. Several policeman and firefighters were injured in the rioting last night…

French Youths Clash with Police

Lille – Dozens of French youths clashed with police in a town in northeast France overnight, burning cars during a rampage triggered by the killing of a 22-year-old man, an official said on Sunday.

Two police officers, two firefighters and five residents suffered minor injuries during the violence that raged until Sunday morning in Vitry-le-Francois, said Sylvaine Astic from the regional prefect’s office.

Armed with baseball bats and firebombs, about 50 youths went on a rampage, torching cars and setting fire to garbage bins in the town of 17 000 people, Astic told AFP.

The violence started around 22:00 (20:00 GMT) after the 22-year-old man was gunned down in Vitry-le-Francois. A suspect was arrested overnight.

About 60 police officers were dispatched to the town late on Saturday and remained in Vitry-le-Francois on Sunday.

A police union issued a statement denouncing what it termed as “hysteria” in relations between French youth and police.

“This started out as a murderous settling of scores,” said Nicolas Comte of the SGP-FO police union.

“But quickly this tragic event prompted a violent group to attack police with baseball bats and molotov cocktails as young bystanders watched passively, like spectators to the ‘riot show’,” said Comte.

He linked the latest outbreak to the 2005 suburban riots, France’s worst unrest in decades, when poor immigrant-heavy areas around Paris and other major cities exploded into three weeks of violence.

“Nothing has been resolved since. The fire is still burning under the ashes,” said Comte.

About 250 people took part in a silent march in Vitry-le-Francois on Sunday, led by the victim’s mother who wept as she walked holding a photograph of her son through the low-income neighbourhood of Rome-Saint-Charles.

The last time there was major rioting was in the Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel in November when two teenagers riding a motorbike died after they collided with a police car. The incident led to three days of riots.

More than 100 police officers were injured in Villiers-le-Bel when rioters armed with hunting rifles and pellet guns opened fire, a new, worrisome turn in the ongoing clashes with police in the suburbs.

I will continue to follow this, hopefully it won’t turn out into weeks of violence with scores of innocent civilians and others hurt, as it did in 2005. It will be interesting to see how Sarkozy responds to these incidents in comparison to former French President Jacques Chirac.

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