The Not-So-Gallant Indes of Sartrouville

There has been a series of culture-enriching eruptions recently in Sartrouville, a suburb to the northwest of Paris.

Apropos of nothing in particular, the name of the banlieue in this article reminds me of the opera Les Indes galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau — a delightful work from a different France, three centuries and several light years removed from the current one.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for this translation from Le Parisien:

Sartrouville: New rise of tension in the city of Des Indes

by Julien Constant
June 5, 2018

[Photo caption (not shown): Sartrouville. The city of Des Indes was the scene of violent incidents during the night between Monday and Tuesday.]

A series of fires and clashes with the police disturbed the night between Monday and Tuesday in the district of Des Indes, Sartrouville. It all started around midnight on Esnault Pelterie Street, when firefighters intervened to stop a fire in front of a building.

Upon arrival, the fire engine and the police car that accompanied it were pelted with stones. The result of this first episode was moderate: no one was injured, but the window of the gatekeeper’s lodge was broken. The police intervened and drove the group of attackers away.

At 1:40 on Rue Lakamal, two groups attacked the premises of the property-owner HLM [cheap high-rise housing, the projects] Housing Francilien, and the pad on which a CCTV camera is installed. Fires in trash containers were lit simultaneously on the Avenue de l’Europe and in the marketplace. Three windows of the property-owner’s building were broken with hammers. The police found and secured this tool and a mop soaked in gasoline, which had been abandoned at the site. The camera resisted the fire set at the foot of the pole.

The police responded by using 43 dismantling grenades, and fired flash-bang shots to disperse troublemakers during this encounter, which lasted about twenty minutes.

These events occurred a few hours after the expulsion of the association which manages the prayer room of Des Indes, ordered by the court to leave the premises that belonged to Housing Francilien. The head office of the public-housing landlord in Chatou was subjected to an intrusion ten days ago and an attempted arson that ended in blackened walls. Although no formal link is currently established among all of these incidents, the coincidence between the violence targeting the institutions and the property of the landlord and the vicissitudes of the prayer room caught the attention of investigators.

According to Frédéric Landon, the lawyer for the president of the Muslim Association of Des Indes, his client has “nothing to do” with this series of fires in any case. Stressing that this is “a man of great moral probity,” Mr. Landon recalls, in passing, that he filed a complaint in a civil suit against the former prefect of Yvelines Serge Morvan, who had given several orders to close the prayer room on the grounds, inter alia, that the president of the association was in contact with a terrorist.