Saturday, November 12, 2005

Crackdown -

From BBC News, via Little Green Footballs:

Riot erupts in French city centre

Police in the French city of Lyon have fired tear gas to break up groups of youths who hurled stones and bins hours before a curfew was due to begin.

Police on the city's famous Place Bellecour square made two arrests in what state news agency AFP says is the first rioting in a major city centre.

Lyon has imposed a curfew for the first time in two weeks of nationwide unrest.

Thousands of police are patrolling Paris to enforce a ban on all public meetings likely to provoke rioting.

Trouble began at about 1700 (1600 GMT) on Place Bellecour where a large number of riot police were on duty as a preventative measure.

Around 50 youths attacked stalls and damaged vehicles, witnesses were quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Shoppers hurried away from the area and most local shopkeepers closed their doors.

Officials in Lyon and 10 other towns to the east of the city earlier announced a curfew to bar unaccompanied minors from the streets over the weekend between 2200 and 0600 local time.

The worst suburban unrest on Friday night was reported in Lyon and the city of Toulouse in the south-west.

More than 500 cars were set on fire, two police officers were wounded and 206 people were detained across the country.

This was an increase on the previous night, when about 400 vehicles were torched and 168 people were arrested.

Paris curbs

The Paris ban on meetings, imposed under new emergency measures, started at 0900 GMT on Saturday and will remain in force until Sunday morning.

Police say they have intercepted e-mails and text messages calling for "violent acts" in the city on Saturday.

The ban prohibits "all meetings likely to start or fuel disorder".

National police chief Michel Gaudin warned the threat of violence in the capital was "not a rumour".

The Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees avenue were among sites that could be potential targets, he said.

The BBC's David Chazan in the French capital says the police have been highly visible on the streets and in the metro, the city's rail transport system, stopping people and checking identities.

Mosque attacked

In the southern town of Carpentras, petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque during prayers on Friday, causing minor damage.

The nightly protests have gripped deprived areas where unemployment is rife and residents complain of racism and discrimination.

On Thursday, President Jacques Chirac acknowledged that France had "undeniable problems" in poor city areas and must respond effectively.

Maybe if the French just crawl under a rock, and pretend they're dead, the Muslims will leave them alone.