Monday, November 07, 2005


From the Washington Post:

PARIS (Reuters) - Youths rioted for a 12th night in France on Tuesday and the government announced plans to impose curfews in the rundown suburbs hit by the violence.

Rioters torched cars in the suburbs of Paris, the southwestern city of Toulouse and in Lille and Strasbourg in the north, defying a pledge by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin for his conservative government to take a firm line against them.

Villepin rejected demands to call out the army but, under growing pressure from opponents to end the violence, he told TF1 television late on Monday: "Wherever it is necessary, prefects will be able to impose a curfew."

Initial reports suggested Tuesday's riots were less severe than those on Monday when youths shot at police and torched more than 1,400 cars in the worst violence since the unrest began on October 27.

In Toulouse, youths set fire to a bus and 21 cars, police said. At least two cars were set ablaze near Lille and two more in Strasbourg, Reuters reporters said.

Police said 14 cars were set alight in the Yvelines district west of Paris and 17 in Seine-Saint-Denis north of the capital, home to many Arab and African immigrants where the unrest began.
On Monday, a man died after being beaten on Friday in the northern Paris suburb of Stains.

Villepin said the cabinet would take steps to empower local government officials, known as prefects, to impose curfews under a 1955 law at a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday called by President Jacques Chirac.

He said 1,500 police and gendarmes would be brought in to back up the 8,000 officers already deployed in areas hit by unrest. He also promised to accelerate urban renewal programs.

But dismissing growing calls for army intervention, he said: "We have not reached that point."

The opposition Socialists said Villepin had not done enough to give hope to those people in areas affected by the unrest, which has involved poor whites as well as French-born citizens of Arab or African origin complaining of racism and unemployment.

"Beyond the necessary calls for order, what was missing in the prime minister's address was a social dimension, a message and precise commitments toward the people of these areas in difficulty," the Socialist Party said in a statement.

The conservative government has struggled to formulate a response that could halt the unrest, which was sparked by frustration among ethnic minorities over racism, unemployment and harsh treatment by police.

Getting out the heavy appeasement artillery.