Monday, December 26, 2005

The Rage
Is Asleep

From Little Green Footballs:

BONDY, France “Burn!” A knot of young men join their voices in a battle cry as they edge closer to the silhouette of a parked Mercedes, some of them aiming what look like handguns, others reaching for lighters.

In the harsh light of an underground parking lot in this grim suburb northwest of Paris, the guns and lighters are imaginary - but the sense of aggression is real. As one of the young men films with a digital camera, the others move to the angry beat of music blasting out of an open car door, echoing into the dark December night.

They sing about the riots that erupted two months ago, about being Muslim and about not feeling French in France. For them the unrest is not over, it is waiting to break loose again.
“The quiet is deceptive,” said Bala “Balastik” Coulibaly, 24, of nearby Clichy-sous-Bois, his eyes scanning the deserted parking lot from deep inside his sweatshirt as he took a break between two songs. It was in Clichy that the accidental death of two teenagers on Oct. 27 set off three weeks of rioting in immigrant neighborhoods across France.

Since then, the whiff of gasoline and tear gas has disappeared. But the calm is fragile, impatient and tinged with the cynicism of youths who fear being let down again by a political class that allowed mass unemployment and social exclusion to accumulate over three decades in the poor suburbs ringing France’s big cities.

“The rage in the suburbs is only asleep,” said Balastik, a French youth of Mauritanian origin who has been jobless since dropping out of school seven years ago and is dreaming of a career as a rapper with his band, Styladone.

My advice to the French is, you better not play those Maurice Chevallier records too loudly, so as not to wake up the sleeping "youths."

Best to stick with good ole' Marcel Marceau, these days.