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Last night 1290 cars were torched by angry kids in France if the police numbers are correct. Now, is that news worthy? I think so. Had it happened in Afghanistan or Iraq it would be certainly top news, too. Let's face it: This is not 'normal', it is a fanal that something stinks in France. Big time. I agree that this must not be interpreted as a sign of racism and islamism, but it is however a strong wake up call that the situation in the poor areas of French towns have become unbearable. Perhaps as unbearable as in the inner cities in the US/UK and in parts of Rotterdam, A'dam and other Dutch towns. I see however two major differences between what happens in France to the US/UK and Holland:

  • the militant action has a clearly defined political goal (the removal of Sarkozy).

  • there is no looting going on, no targeting ethnic groups.

There is also an organisational void, their are no leaders of the movement, no national structure. Not yet. It will come eventually. One possibility is that it will become a self fulfilling prophecy thing with the 'older brothers' of the prayer houses stepping in. That would be a desaster. The other possibility needs the swift action of the left wing political forces and the unions to 'jump the shark' and willing to ride it. There is still a one month window of opportunity to do so. The violent opposition towards Sarko has both to be broadened and deepened. The French left has to mobilize and to assume the leadership role. The fight must be lead against the neoliberal economic policies. And it must be Europeanised. We need strong action now, down playing what happens now to a 'phenomenon' would be a desaster.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 09:01:55 AM EST
Do you know if the Social Parties in various European countries (but especially in France right now) are having dialogue about a direction to take? I'd be keen to hear a specific position...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 09:15:27 AM EST
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But I remember that years ago I already heard, on German TV while being in Germany that kids regularly set cars on fire in Strassbourg. It looks like the "French Immigrant Kid's" version of "Skinheadedness". The car burnings are really a distinct trade mark of French immigrant teenager
s street fights. They don't attack people, like German neo-nazi mob do. So, there is something very specific in the way this civil unrest plays itself out.
by mimi on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 09:51:17 PM EST
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Burning cars as an element of expression for the unhappy youth started in Strasbourg a few years back, as a New Year's Eve "amusement". I am not sure how exactly it started (because a lot of the cars initially burnt were big German cars stolen for "rodeos", not local cars), and if it became a "tradition" because the media and/or the politicians made a big deal of what was initially fairly isolated incidents. since then, car burning has become the traditional way to express (not necessarily clear) grievances in these suburbs.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 04:23:56 AM EST
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