Fjordman sent a link today to a story from the town of Saint-Dezier in the northeast of France:
The dateline is current – October 5th – but the tale has assumed a stylized character, as though we were spectators at an opera. One could repeat the general outline of the drama without even reading the account. I would say “youths in Saint-Dezier, France” and you would fill in the blanks, saying “rioted, injuring police and firefighters.” And a third person would add,” officials say they do not know why the riots occurred.”
Wash, rinse, repeat.
So here we go:
Dozens of hooded youths battered two police vehicles with metal bars, set fire to more than a dozen parked cars and torched a community center in northeast France, officials said Friday.
The rampage in a tough neighborhood in Saint-Dizier, about 120 miles east of Paris, revived memories of a wave of car burnings, vandalism and clashes with police in 2005 fanned by feelings of alienation among French youths of Arab and African origin.
Authorities were not sure what sparked the violence by 30-40 youths late Thursday. The trouble began when firefighters escorted by police entered the Vert-Bois neighborhood in response to a fire alarm.
Two injuries were reported. A police officer was treated for cuts from broken glass, and a firefighter was struck in the arm with a metal bar.
Stratfor claims that this new outbreak of violent “youths” does not portend another crisis like the one in 2005, especially since there does not seem to be a precipitating factor to act as a catalyst for further violence [this link was available when I clicked on it earlier from Google News. However, in checking it I find that all but an abstract has disappeared behind a subscription wall]:
For now, the event does not appear to herald a replay of the race riots that rocked France in 2005, when the alleged accidental electrocution of three Muslim youths fleeing local police sparked violence on a national scale. This time around, there seems to be no precipitating event, suggesting that the violence will not again expand nationally in short order.
But the spontaneous nature of the violence suggests that French suburbs — where the 10 percent of France’s population that is Muslim is concentrated — are beginning to develop characteristics similar to those found in Watts, Calif., in the United States in 1965. In Watts, the local minority — blacks — felt so dispossessed that violence was seen as one of the few means of impacting political discourse.
Everyone knows the sociology of the problem of unassimilated third generation non-French ethnic groups, but no one seems to have an answer or solution. Stratfor is correct to compare it to Watts in 1965. And I well remember then the French public’s attitude toward racist America when Watts finally melted down. Now they are faced with not only racial issues, but politico-religious ones as well. These radicalized rioters self-identify as Muslims, even as they break the tenets of this religion on a daily basis.
This is not about religion….
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The issue is political in nature and Islam is just a handy funnel down which to pour the gasoline of dissatisfaction, alienation, and despair that roils a surplus population which feels nowhere at home. Until indigenous community leaders emerge to take charge of the situation, nothing will change.
Here’s a summary of Watts:
Longstanding resentment by Los Angeles’ working-class black community over treatment by police and what was seen as inadequate public services (especially schools and hospitals) exploded on August 11, 1965, into what were commonly known as the Watts Riots. The event that precipitated the disturbances, the arrest of a black youth by the California Highway Patrol on drunk-driving charges, actually occurred outside Watts, but the district was by far the area most damaged in the turmoil.
Watts suffered further in the 1970s, with gangs gaining in strength. Between 1989 and 2005, police reported more than 500 homicides in Watts, most of them gang-related. Three of Watts’ most notorious gangs-Grape Street Watts Crips, Bounty Hunter Watts Bloods, and PJ Watts Crips-formed a cease-fire agreement after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a pact that may have been tied to a decrease in crime in the area between 1992 and 2000.
Beginning in the 1970s, many African Americans left Watts for other parts of South Los Angeles, and later the Antelope Valley, the Inland Empire, The San Gabriel Valley, Orange County, and the San Joaquin Valley. This process, known as black flight, is a phenomenon occurring in many inner-city neighborhoods in Los Angeles today. The exiting black population is being largely replaced by immigrants of Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican and Central American ancestry. This process accelerated after the 1992 riots.
Neighborhood leaders have begun a strategy to overcome Watts’ reputation as a violence-prone and impoverished area. Special promotion has been given to the museums and art galleries opened in the area surrounding Watts Towers around on 1765 East 107th St which is towards Imperial Highway towards surrounding suburb of Lynwood. This sculptural and architectural landmark has attracted many artists and professionals to the area.[my emphasis]
The French government can help its Algerian and North African ethnic groups by pulling in French business leaders, by offering corporate tax breaks and other incentives to those willing to risk working with community-identified leaders in these ghetto areas, and by creating mixed-use spaces which allow people to live near the areas they work and go to school. In Watts, as people became successful with the intervention of Enterprise Zones, then they left the area to disperse into the wider California counties nearby. Into their place moved the newer immigrants, this time non-native ethnic groups from other countries.
Can the French culture initiate and sustain such change? Or will it continue to restrict its non-native populations to ethnic reservations?
One guaranteed failure: continued hand-wringing and claims of ignorance about the sources of a growing and incendiary problem.