The protests in France, stemming from the electrocution and death of 2 teens running from the police (the police say they were not chasing them), has grown by the day. In DEL's first post on the riots, I argued that the underlying tensions were largely due to France's socialist policies that have created immigrant neighborhoods with extremely high long-term unemployment. This in turn has led to a large-scale disenfranchisement of French Muslim youth. The long-run failure of the French system to provide jobs for their people is giving an opening to the elements of radical Islam that give a false sense of community to those affected Muslim youth.
The Christian Science Monitor approaches the riots from the unemployment perspective in this piece today:
"That incident [DEL: the death of the teenage immigrants], says social worker Michèle Lereste, "crystallized the hatred" that some of the most disaffected and hopeless young men living in what the government calls "sensitive urban zones" feel toward authority.
In these 751 zones that the government has designated for special programs, unemployment stands at 19.6 percent - double the national average - and at more than 30 percent among 21- to 29- year-olds, according to official figures. Incomes are 75 percent below the average."
The article goes on to describe the growing angst French immigrant youth feel towards the French government.
"'The kids learn all the French republican values such as equality in school, and then they find in practice that it's an illusion,' says Ms. Bouzar, who was recently named one of Time magazine's 50 'European Heroes' as a role model for those seeking to be good Muslims and good French citizens. 'There is an enormous gap between theory and practice.'
Nowhere is that gap clearer, say young men in Clichy-sous-Bois and adults who work with them, than in the behavior of the police. 'They check our papers everywhere, all the time, for no reason,' complains one youth in Clichy who did not want to be identified. 'And the checks are getting rougher and rougher.'
Those sorts of experiences 'delegitimize the state' in young peoples' eyes, worries Bouzar, which helps explain why authority figures such as firemen and doctors have been stoned on recent nights even as they tried - with police protection - to save lives and property."
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (the former French Foreign Minister) expressed an opinion that the protests are "organized".
"'I will not accept organized gangs making the law in some neighborhoods. I will not accept having crime networks and drug trafficking profiting from disorder,' Villepin said at the Senate in between emergency meetings called over the riots."
France's Interior Minister is trumpeting a similar line about the protests being organized.
"Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said in a television interview that he believed the rioting 'was not spontaneous, it was perfectly organized.' He said law enforcement authorities did not know who was organizing the violence and offered no evidence to support the statement."
Meanwhile the French government cannot agree on a course of action and appears paralyzed by the riots.
"De Villepin proposed no action to bolster public statements that have had no discernible effect on the violence. The cabinet has weighed proposals for a forceful response against concern that such a move would merely bring more rioters onto the streets.
'We see the situation in certain neighborhoods is not getting better at all, but degenerating,' Socialist Party leader Jean-Marc Ayrault told French LCI television. He said President Jacques Chirac's government 'did not know how to take control.'"
Dawn's Early Light believes a couple of different scenarios could be at play:
- The riots were spontaneous based on boiling frustration from young immigrants about their poverty and treatment by the French government and police that were ignited by the teenagers' deaths.
- After a week, the riots could be spreading based on similar spontaneous uprisings of more communities expressing their anger at the government in a violent fashion.
- OR radical Islam elements could be using these protests as a means to organize more youth and deploy them against the French government in a larger Islamic movement.
However, without some type of direct evidence that the 3rd scenario above is true from the French government, it would look more likely that the French government is shifting the blame from its own failed policies to the ethereal threat of "radical Islam".
Time will tell which scenario is right. Regardless, the French have a major systemic, long-term problem to address. The riots will only lead to strengthening radical Islam in their country over the long run. Failed socialist policies of Chirac's government appear largely to blame.