This morning’s top story in the France2 8AM newscast was the rioting in the Gare du Nord, one of the largest train and subway terminals in Paris. The Gare du Nord is also a terminus for the Eurostar trains.
Clashes erupt at Paris’ Gare du Nord
Riot police firing tear gas and brandishing batons clashed Tuesday with bands of youths who shattered windows and looted shops at a major Paris train station, and officials said seven people were arrested.
Officers and police dogs charged at groups of marauding youths, some of them wearing hoods, who mingled with commuters and travelers at the Gare du Nord — one of Paris’ most important transport hubs.
Clashes erupt at Paris train station
Officials from Paris’ RATP public transport authority said the violence started after a man without a Metro ticket punched two inspectors during a routine ticket check. Youths also attacked the inspectors and later turned on police patrolling the station, officials said.
“The inspectors were hit with projectiles, as were the officers who came to assist them,” said Luc Poignant, an official for the Force Ouvriere police union.
But youths at the station said Tuesday’s clashes started when police manhandled a young person of North African origin. Some claimed that the youth’s arm was broken in the confrontation.
Surely, “some” could actually show on the spot to the reporting media that it had been?
Reuters has a slide show of the rioting at the train station.
The BBC, however, shows that Violence spilled out of the station and on to nearby streets
The youths who gathered in the Gare du Nord on Tuesday shouted insults about Mr Sarkozy.
They also chanted slogans of “police are everywhere, justice is nowhere” and “down with the state, police and bosses”.
Police took several hours to clear rioters from the station’s main hall.
The violence was sparked when a 33-year-old man without a ticket jumped over a barrier.
Transport officials said the man punched two ticket inspectors who asked for his ticket as part of a routine inspection. He was eventually arrested by police.
But a growing crowd felt that the police had used excessive force to arrest the man, and their protest turned violent.
The riots spilled out into nearby streets, where rubbish bins and street signs were set on fire.
It took the police eight hours to control the area.
In the fashion we’ve grown accustomed to expect from the Left, the Socialists say the hostility between police and young people is a direct result of the hardline policies of Mr Sarkozy, the Interior Minister.
Never mind that on the day before the rioting, March 26, Sarko had resigned his post as Interior Minister in order to concentrate in campaigning for the presidency.
Upon hearing that he was being blamed, Sarkozy replied (link in French),
“We are the only country where it’s considered that it’s not normal to stop somebody because he doesn’t pay for his ticket”.
Via Atlas, The Astute Blogger posts on the Sarkozy intifada. Indeed, France2’s 1PM news/talk show (link in French) speculated on how this riot might affect the election.
Others blogging on this:
LGF reminds us of the law banning citizen journalists from reporting violence
Update: L’Ombre de l’Olivier (emphasis added):
In other words the “youths” felt that their fare dodging mate should not have been arrested. This is not noticeably different from the spark for the previous riots when the two kids got electrocuted under disputed circumstances. However that is not what I found most interesting. What is interesting is the identity of the various witnesses quoted by AP.
Firstly there is “Commuter Cyril Zidou, a 24-year-old electrician”, then there is “Another commuter, Guy Elkoun” and thirdly there is “Shopkeeper Mohamed Mamouni”. All three of these names are distinctly non-French, i.e. it seems highly likely that all three are of immigrant background. At least two, and probably all three, of them are apparently gainfully employed and therefore not the stereotypical unemployed immigrant that some sections of the media and the blogosphere would have you believe is the entire population of the Parisian suburbs. These people are in fact the ones most affected by the lawless “youths” and they are the ones that the rest of France needs to ensure stays loyal to France for the state to continue to rule the entire nation.
As Roger says, the article makes it clear that the “youths” have never really stopped rioting, the news media stopped covering it when the worst rioting stopped but nothing much else has changed. This means that the divide between the unemployed (and frequently unemployable) youths and the rest remains. And this in turn means that even though the riot isn’t directly related to the elections if unrest continues it is likely to have an effect on the polls. What effect is unclear.
Sarko can probably do a slopey shoulders trich to weasel his way out of responsibility for the continuing problems but he may be better advised to not do so. Part of his appeal is that he is willing to act and take responsibility for his acts so in this case he may want to take responsibility for failure to act completely as interior minister and then promsie to do better as president. While he has not yet done that, so far he seems to be the only candidate willing to stand up and say something .
Read it all.
You Tube, in French,
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UPDATE, Thursday, 29 March IBD editorial:
But rioters sought to shift the debate, saying it was all about Sarko, not their unwillingness to obey the law, get a job or assimilate into French society.
It’s unlikely the political shading of the act will be lost on French voters. The rioting amounted to a low-level intimidation effort, different only in degree, not kind, from the psychology of the al-Qaida terror attacks that hit Spain before its last election in 2004.
It worked in Spain. Voters there caved, giving the terrorists the weak leaders they wanted. Clearly Sarko, with his tough law-and-order stance, is someone the rioters would like to take down.
But there are signs political coercion in France might not work. Sarkozy remains a strong front-runner in the French race because voters seem to like his willingness to stand up for Western civilization, and he’s made no conciliatory statements to rioters so far.
If that holds, French voters may react as Americans did when Osama bin Laden threatened new terror attacks on any U.S. state that voted for George Bush — voting as hard against the threats as they can. Sarkozy is no U.S.-style conservative, but he thinks some things are worth defending. Let’s hope the French do, too.
a.k.a. Blandly Urbane says
Hmmmm, this kind of activity is getting kind of regular. Perhaps too many bran muffins and coffee?
Just another indicator of what’s to come I guess.
dirty dingus says
The more I think about it the more I think Sarko’s statement was bang on. As I wrote at my blog, assuming he can avoid any blame game stuff this really ought to play into his hands because the socialist approach of saying “society is to blame”is not going to play well with the electorate. It will be fascinating to see whether Sarko picks up support in the suburbs from the law abiding members of the immigrant community
Fuck the French
The early reports could not even identify the so-called “youths” (33 year old youths?). It took the media about 12 hours to determine they were of “immigrant or north african” origin. At that time the many French officials had also determined that it was Sarkozy’s fault that the “youth” jumped the pay station, was arrested, and then punched the metro employees.
This happens all the time in France. There are whole areas of France where French law and social norms are ignored. This is because there is a group of people that does not believe it has to abide by the rules and standards of French Society. This is the fruit of multiculturalism, that basically says “You have your culture, we have ours” – so bug off.
This group of people that believes it can ignore the law is mainly composed of what is known in the real world as Muslims.
The problem is that the government and media has imposed upon itself a policy of blindlness toward crime, hate and racism – when committed by Muslims. It is not politically correct to link any of these to Muslims, or much less to attribute these actions to Islam and its teachings. So “Youths” will continue to riot (and it will get worse, much worse) and officials and the media will blame everybody for the violence, except those who are actually doing the violence.
Europe has gone to bed with the devil and must pay for its sins. The question is if it will suvive the penitence.
The metro police (started by Sarko a while back) have a reputation of being thuggish, arbitrary in their controles and violent, and are pretty widely hated by commuters. Apparently also, they tend to lie about violence towards them in order to qualify for medical leaves. As one friend who lives there and has seen them in action before put it, it wouldn’t be surprising if the police are put on leave for injuring their toes while kicking heads in this last time around.
Seconding Madder’s comments about the Metro police: I was stopped by them a few years back and couldn’t produce my current subway ticket. (Who keeps them handy?) I’m obviously an American and tried to explain (my French is better than average, but not that good), but they were utterly inflexible. They confiscated my passport and demanded enough money — a few hundred francs — that I had to leave the metro to scrounge it up. What could I do? I left and tried to get cash in various places, but as an foreigner without a passport I was met with cold stares. I explained my predicament to a few sympathizers and they shook their heads and muttered darkly about the “metro fliks” (cops). I eventually got the money by duping a bureau du change cashier, saying I forgot my passport at the hotel.
When I returned to the metro, the fliks were gone. I asked the station attendent and he made a few calls. I waited an hour until one of them waltzed in, smoking and looking bored. I paid my fine, got my passport back, and said in the haughtiest French I could muster: “you’re aware it’s nearly impossible to get cash without a passport?” He smiled and pocketed the money.
I’m not excusing the rioters (or myself) but know that this is the attitude of the French police toward a harmless white guy. I rather doubt their thuggishness will be any less toward those of “immigrant or North-African origin.”
There’s your key: a youth of “North African” origin, i.e., Islamic. The longer I live, and the more I see of past and current history, the more I’m convinced that all Africa produces, both North and Sub-Saharan, is a pox upon the civilized world.
Mahone, you have a right to your opinion but I strongly disagree. I have a very dear relation who was born and raised in a country in North Africa. My neighbor’s African. I’ll have in my Blog Talk Radio show a man connected to Strathmore University in Kenya, which is an institution making a difference in the continent.
It serves us poorly to make a statement such as yours, and I politely request that you respect those people who are trying to save Africa, their native continent.
Lord Floppington says
So how big is a “band” of youths when it takes several hours to clear them out of a train station? Is it just a coincidence that “bands of youths” who are ready to riot for several hours happened to be at the train station when a fare jumper gets stopped? Or is this huge train station so big that it can’t help but have several of these “bands” in it all hours of the day and night among the huge populations?
Seems like someone could stage a flying imams style confrontation, get a bunch of local, unemployed “youths” to congregate at the station, and have one especially motivated person to jump the turnstile and smack a couple of train workers in the face, which would, conveniently enough, almost guarantee a fairly hands-on arrest that would be easily protested with a several hours long riot.
Nah. That’s crazy talk.
Valjean: I’m American, but I’m in France 2-3 times a year. My copain, who is French, has told me to steer clear of the flics du train. He’s a French Frenchman (un prof de classes prepas, en plus) who’s been harassed by them, and has seen intimidation of witnesses in his particular case (was run off the road by a bus driver while cycling to work in Paris).
Tomorrow, there’s going to be a teachers’ manifestation in Paris in support of the headmistress of a school who was assaulted and falsely accused of vandalism by police. Sarko had quit his post a few days after this happened, so his stock line’s been “I’m not the head of the police anymore – I’m not responsible.” Nice. I’m waiting with bated breath to see how *this* is handled, both by MSM here and the soi-disant alternative media.
BTW – you weren’t one of the Dassault guys who was intimidated/fined for having the wrong ticket when they got rid of the Suresnes stop but didn’t change how the tickets were printed out, were you?
Vince P says
“More Moslems came, and soon a small mosque was built, which attracted yet others. As long as Zoroastrians remained in the majority, their lives were tolerable; but once the Moslems became the more numerous, a petty but pervasive harassment was apt to develop. This was partly verbal, with taunts about fire-worship, and comments on how few Zoroastrians there were in the world, and how many Moslems, who must therefore posses the truth; and also on how many material advantages lay with Islam. The harassment was often also physical; boys fought, and gangs of youth waylaid and bullied individual Zoroastrians. They also diverted themselves by climbing into the local tower of silence and desecrating it, and they might even break into the fire-temple and seek to pollute or extinguish the sacred flame. Those with criminal leanings found too that a religious minority provided tempting opportunities for theft, pilfering from the open fields, and sometimes rape and arson. Those Zoroastrians who resisted all these pressures often preferred therefore in the end to sell out and move to some other place where their co-religionists were still relatively numerous, and they could live at peace; and so another village was lost to the old faith.”
Boyce, A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism, pp. 7-8;
Vince P says
Fausta: With Respect i say you shouldn’t have been so harsh on mahone. It’s obvious to most thinking people that blanket statemetns about people are usually always accompiated with exceptions and one doesn’t need to read “of course they all aren’t like that” every time a topic like this comes up.
I cant tell you how sick and tired I am of typing those words. I’m an adult and I expect otehr adults to use a little bit of thier brains
Laika's Last Woof says
Sorry to have to do this, but your blog is so annoying it’s almost unreadable.
You’ve got crazy links going to completely irrlevant material (like “youths” links to a book about American Youths — WTF does that have to do with France?)
You also have pop-up links on top of other links, so when I try to click the “play” button to run the video I accidentally click on some other link that has jumped in front of the play button.
Dude, tone down the links, and try to make some kind of logical sense out of them. Your website is practically unreadable like this. Focus!
Laika's Last Woof says
I’m sorry to complain like this, but I find your website unbearably annoying, almost to the point of unreadability.
You have crazy non-sequiter links going to completely irrelevant places (“youths” links to a book about American Youths — WTF? Aren’t the “youths” in question French?)
You have pop-up links that jump at you from out of nowhere, and sometimes they pop up on top of other links, so that when you go for the “play” button on the media player you wind up hitting the link that popped up right on top of it as you moused over to it.
Dude, I’m not illiterate and I know how to use a mouse. If I want to see your link, I WILL CLICK ON IT. Otherwise it should just sit there out of the way so as to not distract me from your insightful prose. Perhaps you think your writing is so weak that no one will read it unless it’s jazzed up with pop-up-link reverse-whack-a-mole where we have to dodge the pop-up in order to get it to go away so we can continue reading? WTF? Why are you doing this?
Also, your links need to be more focused. It’s like you’re googling words at random and rolling dice to pick a link or something. If you’re writing about King Henry the word “King” shouldn’t link to an Elvis CD collection. Maybe you think you’re playing some kind of clever free-association game with us, but I don’t find it in the least bit amusing. It’s distracting.