Sunday, November 06, 2005

Notes on the violence

Apart from massive economic deprivation on the one hand and the need to re-establish order and law on the other, what else can one say about the continuing violence in France? Here are a few notes in no particular order.

As one BBC report put it a few days ago, Aulnay is actually quite a nice place; it's just the estates...

Police de proximité (neighbourhood police or 'bobbies on the beat'): Sarkozy either did away with local police stations altogether, or reduced the budget for them, depending one which version you believe. 

The influence of Islamic fundamentalism: either as the organising force behind the disturbances; or as something those who are alienated from French society can identify with.

One commentator on BBC World Service, Saturday night (Dominique Moissé, I think) put it this way: the banlieues are ignored in normal times, but when cars are set alight the BBC and CNN give it huge coverage; for the excluded there it must seem as if 'I destroy, therefore I exist'. Nice to know the philosophical tradition of Descartes and Sartre is alive and well. 

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