Sunday, November 06, 2005

France Aflame

Marginalized immigrant communities, largely of North African descent, have been involved in 10 days of arson and rioting throughout France. This is likely to fuel anti-immigrant sentiment there and strengthen the European far right. The Islamist radicalism all too visible in Europe, the terror attacks in Madrid and London, and the ritual murder of artist Theo Van Gogh only compound the polarization. We are already witnessing a hardening of opinion in Britain, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The extreme right is likely to do well at the next elections.

Unemployment, poor housing, racial discrimination, crime and the lack of opportunity partly explain the simmering discontent that explodes in street riots and the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe. However, the issue is broader and also relates to the inability of certain immigrant communities to move out of the poverty trap and meaningfully integrate in the countries they live in. 63% of British youth of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are considered poor. The contrast with British youth of Indian origin can not be more striking. French authorities estimate that 150 of the 1,600 mosques in France are under the control of extremist elements. Dutch intelligence officials speculate that 20 different hard-line Islamist groups operate in the Netherlands. British authorities allege that 3,000 veterans of the Al-Qaeda training camps were either born or based within its borders. These instances illustrate the failure of integration. I think that due sensitivity is owed to Europe's Muslim community. But the rise of the Wahhabi and Salafist groups, not to mention North African street gangs, in Europe needs to be tackled head-on regardless. Such groups only breed hostility towards immigrants.

We live in a multi-cultural and multi-faith world. This makes it imperative that the international media cover the ongoing riots in France in an open and frank manner. The stifling barriers of political correctness can not be an excuse to avoid discussing the ghettoized culture of insularity that contributed to the riots. While the mainstream press would be reluctant to address such issues for fear of being branded racist and intolerant, the lack of meaningful analysis and corrective action would only help Europe's far right. That in turn would make matters worse.

Here are two insightful articles, one from Time Magazine and the other courtesy Francis Fukuyama.


Laks said...

Very good post. French media is already giving equal airtime to rioting 'youth' and they are talking about giving 'le respect'. The tough Interior Minister is under fire from Trotskyist masquendring as Leftists.

Read this AFP article (in French) abt media spin.

Sukhinder said...

The uprising has taken a religious character, a point omitted in the English language newspapers. North African gangs set several churches on fire today. 1,400 cars have been torched in 11 days of riots. Three countries have already issued travel advisories warning their citizens to avoid travel there. Le Pen will capitalize on this big time. France will never be the same again.

libertarian said...

I guess banning religious head-dress didn't work huh? What a surprise! This is all the silly Americans' fault.

Watch as Sarkozy pushes for the most freedom-trampling legislation that the Western world has witnessed to date.

rc said...

> 63% of British youth of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are considered poor. The contrast with British youth of Indian origin can not be more striking.

And what is that contrast in numbers?

- thx.

Jaffna said...


I refer to the factsheets of the UK Commission for Racial Equality dated 1997. You will be able to download that from the internet.

I refer to economic activity rates. 80% of British-whites, 72% of British-Indians and 76% of British-Black Caribbeans in the working age group (i.e. 16-59/64) were engaged in economic activity as opposed to 47% of British-Pakistani's and 46% of British-Bangladeshi's. This statistic includes both men and women.

Now let us turn to just women. 73% of British-whites, 62% of British-Indian women and 72% of British-Black Caribbean women in the working age group were engaged in economic activity in contrast to 22% of British-Pakistani women and 21% of British-Bangladeshi women.

Among 16-24 year olds of both sexes, 44% of British-Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, taken together, were economically active compared with 75% of British white youth.

Laks said...

right on. libertarian.

The move, announced by interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, allows local authorities to impose curfews and lets police perform raids without warrants.

FCLU, where are you? Actually I have never heard about any civil liberties organization in France. Amnesty and HRW make some noise about the intrusive powers of the French judicial and anti-terror police. so much for 'pays de liberte'


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