Muslim leaders have been acting as mediators between youths and the authorities, going door-to-door to talk to the families of young rioters, or stepping in at night to stop the clashes. At the same time French Imams are trying to distance themselves from the riots.
The estates are not places of lawlessness, but where, due to the social segregation, all social tensions have become exacerbated.
Far more than their parents, the youths of these estates feel misunderstood and hated. Those who are educated or have money have escaped, resulting in an overwhelming sense in the communities that those who remain have failed.
Without a public policy that addresses these youth and their families with understanding and respect for their identity, we will not overcome a fracture as much cultural and political as it is social.
It is my opinion that the riots will be a watershed for French history leading to interesting questions about how the country deals with its minority-ethnic citizens. There are implications for Britain too of course, and I will be examining them in an article later.
But I don’t have any support for the riots – there are better ways to express your anger. This mindless stupidity and violence may fracture French society further, and once again highlights the fact that the government and local (religious and political) leaders have failed the youth. We’re seeing a more violent re-run of the 2001 Oldham riots.
I’ll be on a panel on the BBC Asian Network tomorrow morning (10am) discussing this and the Birmingham riots. I’ll be joined by Prof. Tariq Ramadan, Toyin from Ligali and some councillor from Birmingham.
The BBC has another good article on the situation here:
“There is a dangerous cocktail here,” said Ahmed Belmokhtar, a taxi-driver of Algerian origin, like many of those who live in the poor, crime-ridden estates like Clichy, which ring Paris.
He listed the rampant unemployment, heavy-handed policing, discrimination, poor housing and a concentration of large numbers of immigrants from North and West Africa, along with their descendents.
Many feel that the state ignores them at best and at worst stands in the way of their attempts to escape the estates.
“In the long term, it will force the government to do something for the area. Otherwise, the next round of violence will be even worse.”
In Clichy-sous-Bois, where it all started, calm was restored only after the local Mosque actively sent out people to restore calm, Newsweek reports. But a case of too-little-too-late?
Update 2: Global Voices Online also has an excellent round-up of events that lead up to the riots and what has happened since on the ground.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Race politics,The World