Dawn's Early Light has taken the position the French riots are largely a result of French domestic policies which have contributed to a long-term high unemployment rate [Prior DEL posts here and here]. While religion is a portion of the issue of the riots, it is, in DEL's opinion, a small one at this point, though the news stories like to phrase it with religious overtones. Fellow SCBA blogger Mr. Gillmartin at Sheep's Crib believes religion is the primary reason and that the riots will spread in Europe.
The larger question that is emerging, as Mr. Gillmartin notes above, is "Will the riots spread to other European nations with large Muslim populations?" These countries include Holland, Spain and Germany.
Dawn's Early Light's position is that it is not likely because I hold the position it is a fundamental problem with France's economic structure, and while the issue could morph into a religious uprising, it is not its genesis. The International Herald Tribune has an article that explores this question with respect to Germany. German officials are cautiously optimistic that they will not experience the same riots as France. Here are the reasons given, plus bonus DEL suggestions:
- Germany, in its immigrant communities, lacks the high-rise, crime-infested housing projects like where the riots broke out in France.
- Germany, unlike the French government, has had more interaction with its Muslim communities in discussing issues.
- DEL suggestion 1 - The economic conditions in Germany are less dire than France
- DEL suggestion 2 - There are a greater number of Turkish Muslims in Germany compared to the Algerian Muslims in France. Turkey has a much greater history of stability than Algeria, and therefore the immigrant communities can assimilate better in Germany than France.
- DEL suggestion 3 - As much as state boundaries (ie., nationalism) has decreased in Europe compared to other parts of the world, including North America and Asia, the cause belli for the riots in France was the death of two teenagers perceived running from French police. This is not a readily exportable anger.
While the IHT article does mention a few car burnings in Berlin, the riots have not spread by any large or even medium scale at this point to other nations in Europe. Der Spiegel subscribes mainly to the DEL position, along with most German media outlets:
"As the rioting in Paris enters into its eleventh day, commentators in Germany look to neighboring France in dismay. Fortunately, there is no talk of a clash of civilizations, an unbridgeable religious divide or other nonsense. Most papers see it for what it is: a classic clash between the haves and have nots."
Time will tell who is right in this debate, but the reasons for the riots appear more akin to the Rodney King/Los Angeles riots of 1992 than the "Arab street" rising up in France.
DEL Bonus Prediction
One bonus prediction Dawn's Early Light will make today is that Turkey's prospects of joining the EU, while in jeopardy before, are most likely damaged beyond repair as Europeans will increasingly wish to exclude Muslims from their economic union, no matter how broken in some portions of Europe.
Update: DEL has asked his SCBA fellow bloggers to chime in on where they stand on the source of the French Riots. Here are the following reactions and blog posts based on position.
Supportive of the DEL Position it is mainly about Economics:
- Chirol and Curzon of Coming Anarchy agree with DEL and have two post regarding here and here. "[S]ocieties that do not properly integrate minorities and immigrants socially and economically will result in the disenfranchised resenting the society they live in. They will lash out, often in bursts of coordinated violence. Europe has a serious problem on its hand that it must figure out by itself." From the second link - "The looting in New Oreans had nothing to do with Christianity just as the LA riots were equally secular."
- Cheat Seeking Missiles has an excellent, well sourced piece that lays a large portion of the blame on the broken French system that needs to be "rethought". However, he does note the strong religious undertones of the have nots versus the haves. [DEL: readers may differ with my opinion of which side of the debate to put this post on, but I believe the main vein is the broken model over the religious aspects, but they are nevertheless intertwined.]
- Okie on the Lam writes from a personal comparative analysis of the French riots compared to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It seems his conclusion so far is that it is economic, but religion could play a larger role and the decisions the French need to make will not be easy. Okie has two more posts on the topic as well, one a touching letter from a lady in France from The Anchoress and the other a post on an email dialogue between the two of us on the 1992 LA Riots.
- 21st Century Reformation comes down on the side of economics and the failed French welfare state with this post: "The reality is not that these riots are a result of a failed “integration” policy but a failed government welfare policy. The French have built subsidized government housing for their unemployed immigrant population."
Bloggers who believe it is a Muslim/religious issue at is core:
- Mr. Gillmartin's original post can be found here. He lays out 3 points: 1) he thinks there is reason to believe the riots will spill out over Europe 2) "this is neither an economic or race issue... this is a spiritual and cultural one." 3) Europe has provided a lot of assistance to their immigrants and that Muslim nations do not have a history of providing jobs in their own lands.
- John Schroeder of Blogotional sent DEL an email asking these questions: "If they are economic in origin, why have we not seen the same elsewhere with similar economic policy? Why are other ethnicities, in similar economic situations in France [not] acting in this fashion?" DEL's reply to the first question is there were over 74,000 riots and protests in China last year, a Communist (ie., comparable in some ways to a Socialist) government [See DEL post here]. I think the motivations are largely comparable. The other ethnicities in France did not suffer the death of two teenagers from their community. (Nov. 7, 2005) Further Update: John couldn't stay away from joining the fray and does so with this extensive, stratfor quoting post making an argument about the differences of cultural and national identity between the US and Europe.
Also, see The Redhunter's comments below for another great commentary below.