- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2005

When riots first began in the towns surrounding Paris on Oct. 27 in response to the accidental death by electric shock of two teenage boys, the violence was limited to the destitute suburbs of the Sien-Saint-Denis region north of Paris. During the first few nights, it appeared that the violence would soon be controlled. But the rioting has spread across the country, and even into Paris.

Over the first eight nights of rioting, 1,224 cars and trucks were burned. The violence escalated, and youth gangs set 500 cars and trucks ablaze on Friday night, followed by almost 900 more on Saturday night. Police stations and ambulances have been set on fire, as well as an elementary school. On Saturday night police raided a bomb-making factory south of Paris.

The magnitude and extent of this unrest reflects a longstanding policy of disregard for France’s substantial number of new immigrants, many in France illegally, and a failure to encourage the many Muslim and African immigrants to assimilate into French society. The towns where the riots broke out — Clichy-sous-Bois and Aulnay-sous-Bois — were hotbeds of crime and violence where the police seldom, if ever, ventured. Unemployment in these communities is staggering, ranging as high as 60 percent for younger workers.

The real problem is the culture of violence allowed to fester for so long. In a letter to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, a police official referred to the situation as “civil war” and said it had exceeded the tactical capabilities of the police and required military intervention. French law and order should have been imposed in these increasingly lawless and pseudo-autonomous areas long before full-scale violence erupted.

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