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  • The French riots: About race, not religion

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on November 20th, 2005 (All posts by )

    An interesting article by Martin Walker

    … The young blacks refuse to talk to white reporters, turning silently away to spit and talk among themselves.

    ‘We still have to live here when this is all over,’ muttered Bakil Anelka, who came to France eight years ago from Ivory Coast and works as a cleaner for the Metro. ‘The police will not stay here forever, but the gangs will still be here, back in charge of this district. As soon as I can, I`m moving. I don`t want my kids to grow up here.’

    One of the striking features of the two weeks of rage that swept France is that so many of the rioters are black rather than Arab, though North Africans from Algeria and Morocco and Tunisia make up more than two-thirds of the estimated 6 million immigrants, their families included, in France.

    The fixed idea that French Muslims would sooner or later rise up to declare Jihad on Secular and Christian French society blinded many observers, including most representatives of the press to the fact that these are race rather than Muslim riots. This is the first article I have read that spells this out this clearly:

    …in places where the rioters were ‘beurs,’ as the French Arabs call themselves, Islam and religion seemed to play only a minor role. A tear gas bomb fired into the mosque of Clichy-sous-Bois on the first day of the riots infuriated local Muslims, but there have been no Islamic slogans and no taunts against the French as Christians…

    Local Islamic leaders who tried to calm the young mobs have been routinely ignored, as have the fatwas issued by the leading Imams saying rioting and attacks on innocent people are against Islam.

    ‘It was the people from this congregation who called for calm when the tear gas grenade was fired into our mosque,’ Abdel-Rahman Boubout, the mosque director, told United Press International. ‘This is not about religion, I think. It is about race and discrimination and unemployment and the police, not about Islam.’

    In other words, these riots are a lot more similar to the riots in Watts in the 60s, or the one in LA in ’92, rather than the Palestinian intifada. Jonathan’s point that the rioters are keeping the violence below a certain threshold, in order not to provoke a truly drastic response by the French state, certainly remains valid to some extent, but they also have to excercise restraint on behalf of their adult family members, for most rioting happens in the quarters they live in.

    The article is worth reading in full, especially for the amazing points about black polygamy in France.

     

    3 Responses to “The French riots: About race, not religion”

    1. Architecture and Morality Says:

      Wool over his Eyes: A Frenchman’s View of the Riot

      Dear Cousins

      Before giving you commentary during the heat of events, I waited until the coverage of the rioting that had made it around the world had calmed a bit. There was much that wasn’t said or written in the foreign media, particularly by th…

    2. T J Olson Says:

      I don’t buy either Walker’s assessment or his source’s judgements.

      For one thing, there are no state metrics on who is (and isn’t) Muslim in France; too much is mere conjecture. Second, contrary to assertions therein, the articles I’ve read have mentioned cries of “Allahu Akbar!” while burning car during the riots. Third, no one mentions how thoroughly separatist, anti-western, and pro-Islamic the education of ethnic Muslims is in France – by design and by political policy (see Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia).

      Finally, nothing about how the riots spread opportunistically suggests racial identification. While it’s true that Mosques and clerics were not organizers nor initiators (which would have been weird because alienated jobless youths were the apparent instigators, presenting obvious generational barriers), the basic level of action and transmission of lawlessness remained entho-religious. And a more falsifiable objectyion: if one maintains “race’ as the organizing component, then why did violence climax on apparent threats to move into “tourist areas”? And why is does it provoke another wave of Jewish out-migration from France, seeking safe refuge in distant places like Montreal (as a National Post article explained a couple days ago)?

      I say Walker’s piece is a whitewash of the truth; it’s how official France wishes it were.

    3. Steve Says:

      Another way to categorize the rioters is as “sociaists.”

      Aside from their common skin color, all the rioters think society owes them something. In their dependancy-addled minds, they think that if they bluster a little harder and burn another thousand cars, French society will give them that free college education, or that government “job.”

      In the context of France’s political climate, the mindset of these dependant “welfies” is a logical one. From the Department of Social Cohesion, to France’s entire Socialist party, there are millions of state workers employed essentially to enable these “youth’s” destructive logic.

      And, sadly, from Chirac’s and De Villepin’s pronouncements, it looks like the “youths'” tactics are working.
      -Steve