No Peace Without Justice
Remember the riots in France a year ago? They've been continuing daily, on a smaller scale, ever since.
The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across France so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the Paris outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism
"The thing that has changed over the past month is that they now want to kill us,” said Bruno Beschizza, the leader of Synergie, a union to which 40 per cent of officers belong. Action Police, a hardline union, said: “We are in a civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists."These incidents are occurring in the immigrant suburbs/ghettoes of Paris and other large cities, where unemployment is in the 60% range - much like occupied Palestine!
The politics are predictably complex. Right-wingers want to act tough; socialists and liberals look for positive solutions.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister who hopes to win the presidency next May, has once again taken the offensive, staging raids on the no-go areas and promising no mercy for the thugs who reign there.Many points can be made by a comparison of French politics with American, but here are two main ones:
M Sarkozy’s muscular approach is being challenged not just by Socialist opponents. President Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, his Prime Minister, are waging their own, softer, campaign to undermine the colleague whom they do not want to be president. M de Villepin called in community leaders this week and promised to accelerate hundreds of millions of pounds of measures that were promised last autumn to relieve the plight of the immigrant-dominated suburbs.
- The French and Europeans generally are realistic about life. They've had and survived many right-wing Presidencies and catastrophic wars. They don't expect utopia and they enjoy politics, because that's where the battles are fought.
- Second, the French don't project their problems onto other people. Bush does. But so do Americans generally, including many in the left blogosphere.
The young were born here and they are French. But they have nothing. The real problem is work. If they had any, these riots would not have happened.Again, this underscores the principle for which Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, among many others, were assassinated (or crucified) for trying to reveal:
Without social and economic justice, you can NEVER have peace.