This was not how France’s new president, François Hollande, hoped to celebrate his first hundred days in office. The town of Amiens was rocked overnight as hundreds of rioters, mostly youths, engaged in what some have called “urban guerilla warfare”, evoking bitter memories of 2005, when France was convulsed by three weeks of nationwide unrest.London’s Daily Telegraph has more:
During three hours of running battles with more than 100 rioters, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the unrest, suffering injuries caused by buckshot, fireworks and other projectiles. Some 16 policemen were injured in the clashes.
“We found 12mm cartridges, so they certainly used live bullets,” said Marc Richez of the Synergie Officiers police union.
Back home, the New York Times quoted a spokeswoman for Amiens as saying that, “We don’t know the real cause of this violence,” while CNN described how “images from the north Amiens neighborhood showed burned-out cars and the charred wreckage of a kindergarten and a sports center.”But what you will not find in any of these articles is a clear description of exactly who the young people involved in the riots were.Of course, in the past, France has been swept by waves of rioting among young immigrants from North Africa or others born in France whose families are of North African origin. Clearly, it’s an important part of the news story whether these rioters are from the same demographic group or from some other group of angry people in France.Yet all these media outlets refuse to say anything about the subject.However, there’s a clue in the CNN story that the diligent reader can find. The riots are related, most of the stories say, to a feeling in the unnamed, unspecified “community” that an arrest for a traffic violation was too brutal.
“A local resident told BFM the community was angered Sunday when police carried out an “aggressive” traffic stop as a funeral was being held for a young man killed in a road accident last week.”
“Sabrina Hadji, a sister of the victim, said police fired shots as people — including women, children and the elderly — were gathered for the ceremony.The community is tired of being treated without respect and “like animals,” she told BFM, and a silent march was organized as an expression of “anger because we are never listened to.”
Via Meadia doesn’t know which “community” the rioters belonged to, or if there even was one monolithic community fighting the police in Amiens. After all, youth unemployment across France is at a staggeringly high 23.3%, and is even higher in the north of the country. High temperatures and bleak prospects often make for an explosive combination.But at the same time, it is irresponsible of the media to not address the identity of the “community” head-on, if only to say that all the facts aren’t clear yet. Readers have fresh memories of the country-wide riots in France in 2005, and the major storyline then was the failure of the French system to integrate an increasingly alienated Muslim population. Coverage of these latest disturbances should at least tell us if this is more of the same or something completely different.If the “community” happened to be of North African origin, that would not make us think that all immigrants in France of Muslim faith and North African origin share these attitudes. We have met far too many thoughtful, educated, well-integrated French citizens with this background to smear a whole ethnicity with the actions of some.It’s bizarre and disturbing that quite straightforward news in France isn’t being reported by major news outlets. Is it self-censorship for the sake of political correctness? Are the French authorities strongly suggesting that certain facts not be reported? What exactly is happening in France? Via Meadia would like to know, and we suspect that we are not alone.