Monday, November 07, 2005

French Rioting Spreads
To 300 Towns
Into Belgium,

From Associated Press:

PARIS - Rioting by French youths spread to 300 towns overnight and a man hurt in the violence died of his wounds, the first fatality in 11 days of unrest that has shocked the country, police said Monday.

As urban unrest spread to neighboring Belgium and possibly Germany, the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence, despite massive police deployment and continued calls for calm.

On Sunday night, vandals burned more than 1,400 vehicles, and clashes around the country left 36 police injured, setting a new high for overnight arson and violence since rioting started Oct. 27, Michel Gaudin told a news conference.

Australia, Austria, Britain, Germany and Hungary advised their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States and Russia in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.

Alain Rahmouni, a national police spokesman, said the man who was beaten died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack, but he had no immediate details of the victim's age or his attacker.

The man was caught by surprise by an attacker after rushing out of his apartment building to put out a trash can fire, Rahmouni said.

Apparent copycat attacks spread outside France for the first time, with five cars torched outside Brussels' main train station, police in the Belgian capital said.

The mayhem started as an outburst of anger in suburban Paris housing projects and has fanned out nationwide among disaffected youths, mostly of Muslim or African origin, to become France's worst civil unrest in over a decade.

Attacks overnight Sunday to Monday were reported in 274 towns, and police made 395 arrests, Gaudin said.

It was the first time police had been injured by weapons' fire and there were signs that rioters were deliberately seeking out clashes with police, officials said.

Among the injured police, 10 were hurt by youths firing fine-grain birdshot in a late-night clash in the southern Paris suburb of Grigny, national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said. Two were hospitalized, but their lives were not considered in danger. One was wounded in the neck, the other in the legs.

All told, 4,700 cars have been burned in France since the rioting began and 1,200 suspects were detained at least temporarily, Gaudin said.

France's biggest Muslim fundamentalist organization, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, issued a fatwa, or religious decree. It forbade all those "who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others."

Arsonists burned two schools and a bus in the central city of Saint-Etienne and its suburbs, and two people were injured in the bus attack. Churches were set ablaze in northern Lens and southern Sete, he said.

In Colombes in suburban Paris, youths pelted a bus with rocks, sending a 13-month-old child to the hospital with a head injury, Hamon said, while a daycare center was burned in Saint-Maurice, another Paris suburb.

Much of the youths' anger has focused on law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, whose reference to the troublemakers as "scum" appeared to inflame passions.

They always get that dig in on Sarkozy before the article is over, don't they?

Now, let us consider the Fatwa. Why is it that these Fatwa's are always conditional? When I first read about this one, I didn't realize it was, because it isn't worded in the usual way. Usually, they order Muslims to refrain from attacking and killing "innocents." This one lacks that language.

However, I see that it still has it's qualifications. Don't take part in any action which "blindly strikes private or public property or can hurt others."

In other words, it's ok to attack the the property of the infidels. Hence, the attacks on the churches, which I don't think we had seen previously. I know that a Synagogue had been attacked a few nights back, but no churches.

I think we can expect to see more attacks on churches in coming nights.

This is my prediction: After the first rioter is killed, we can expect to see the rioters unleashed. At that time, the Fatwa will order Muslims not to attack "innocents."

Will I be right? Well, jeez, I hope not.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, France 2 TV, the government-owned network, has decided they will no longer announce the number of burnt cars.

You see, that way, you won't know what, ah, is, uh ...

Oh, never mind.