[URBANTH-L]NEWS: the week Paris burned

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Sun Nov 6 12:31:02 EST 2005

Violence sweeps France in 10th night of riots

Alex Duval Smith in Paris and David Smith
Sunday November 6, 2005
The Observer

France was reeling from a 10th night of violence yesterday as rioting swept
from the suburbs of Paris to become a nationwide crisis.

In towns and cities across the country, youths armed with gasoline bombs
torched scores of vehicles, nursery schools and other targets. Police said
that at least 607 vehicles were set alight, with more than half outside the
Paris region.

The Foreign Office yesterday warned British tourists to 'exercise extreme
care in the affected areas'.

The mayhem came in direct defiance of a warning from Interior Minister
Nicolas Sarkozy that rioters faced stiff punishments. He said setting cars
on fire could 'cost dear in terms of sentences' and that the government was
'unanimous' about standing firm against violence, which many are describing
as France's worst civil unrest since the 1968 student revolts.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was yesterday forced to call a crisis
meeting of his ministers and a top Muslim official as the rioting continued
to spread.

Last night five classrooms at the Sleeping Beauty Nursery School in Grigny,
in the Essonne region south of Paris, went up in flames as well as two
classrooms at another school.

In a measure of public dissatisfaction with the government, Yvan Lemaitre,
the parent of one of the pupils at the Sleeping Beauty school, told French
radio: 'Burning a school is unacceptable but the man who lit the fire is

By 1am this morning, at least 607 vehicles were burned - 13 of them inside
Paris. The overall figures were expected to climb by daybreak.

The troubles threatened to spiral out of control as arson attacks were
reported in cities to the north, south, east and west, many known for their
calm, like the cultural bastion of Avignon in southern France and the resort
cities of Nice and Cannes, where cars were torched.

In the Normandy town of Evreux, arson attacks laid waste to at least 50
vehicles, part of a shopping centre, a post office and two schools, said
Patrick Hamon, spokesman for the national police.

He added that five police officers and three firefighters were injured
battling the blazes.

Arson was also reported in Nantes, in the south west, in Lille and Rennes in
the north and Saint-Dizier, in the Ardennes region east of Paris. In the
eastern city of Strasbourg, 18 cars were set alight in full daylight, police
said. In Toulouse, there were 30 arson attacks.

Some 2,300 police were being brought into the Paris region to bolster
security. In the Essonne area south of the city, a recycling factory was set
on fire and at least 35 vehicles torched.

Twenty-eight cars were torched in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, north east
of Paris, where the riots erupted after two teenage boys were accidentally
electrocuted as they hid from police, apparently thinking they were being
pursued. French authorities have denied that police were to blame.

France-Info radio reported residents catching two 14-year-olds trying to
light a fire in Drancy, north-east of Paris, and turning them over to

Even in the heart of Paris three cars were damaged by fire in the Republique
section, north east of City Hall.

Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, hundreds of people joined marches in Paris
suburbs to protest against the violence. In Aulnay-sous-Bois, which has seen
some of the worst of the rioting, residents walked past burnt-out vehicles
and buildings with banners reading 'No to violence' and 'Yes to dialogue'.

De Villepin called the emergency cabinet meeting to attempt to regain the
momentum and show a united front. He called on ministers to speed up plans
for urban renewal and asked the influential imam of the Paris mosque, Dalil
Boubakeur, to appeal for calm.

But it was Sarkozy who again came in for attack. After his meeting with De
Villepin, Boubakeur launched a veiled attack on the minister's outbursts, in
which he called the disaffected young men on estates 'louts'.

Police trade union official Gilles Petit said the rioters would 'stop at
nothing' in their attacks.

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