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French urban unrest hits new high

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^^good point, but lets not forget Sweden was not a colonial power and therefore will nerver have the same sense of superiority over 3rd world immigrants as say France, Belgium or even Britain.


The french riots have brought to front long standing issues regarding its minorities. The iinaction of past governments over many years whas failed in encouraging 'intergration' and by not ssolving local issues has led to what we see today. This is a well known fact.


The funny thing is most of the rioters are French ie born and bred but are of Algerian/West African origin. The white French dont bother even communicating with them. There are clear lines drawn on racism and resentment.


The French national football team should appeal for calm as they are the only ones the youth would listen to - ie Zidane and co.

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good point, but lets not forget Sweden was not a colonial power and therefore will nerver have the same sense of superiority over 3rd world immigrants as say France, Belgium or even Britain.

Not necessarily. The United States never held the Colonial Power badge either the same way Britain, Belgium, France, Portugal, Italy, etc did. And you would have a hard case arguing that their policies in the past/present werent as you've stated carried "a sense of superiority over 3rd world countries."


On another point, isnt it funny how people are shocked to hear about the situations the immigrants and children of immigrants are going through in France? As if the French and other European governments woke up one morning and decided to enact policies that were inherently discriminatory and possibly racist!


Many of us are quickly forgetting that these nations were once Colonial powers that practiced institutionalized racism.

It doesnt matter what century were living in now. The post-colonial era is only 50+ yrs strong. Sometimes its just to hard to teach an old dog new tricks...


French national football team should appeal for calm as they are the only ones the youth would listen to - ie Zidane and co.

It took this incident to happen for some to realize the situation Immigrant descendants in France were going through.

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Did anyone ever watch Le Haine (1995)?


French rappers' prophecies come true



"What is it, what is it you're waiting for to start the fire? / The years go by, but everything is still the same / Which makes me ask, how much longer can it last?"



The words are from the 1995 song They Don't Understand, by one of France's best-known rap singers, Joey Starr of the group NTM.




He was far from alone in providing a grim prophecy of the events of the last three weeks.


Take these lines from the song In Front Of The Police, by the group 113:


"There had better not be a police blunder, or the town will go up / The city's a time-bomb / From the police chief to the guy on the street - they're all hated."



Or this from Don't Try To Understand, by Fonky Family:


"The state is screwing us / Well you know, we are going to defend ourselves / Don't try to understand."


Or this - uncannily accurate - from Alpha 5.20: "Clichy-sous-Bois, it's gangsta gangsta / And Aulnay-sous-Bois, it's gangsta gangsta."


Ghetto culture


The violence began on 27 October after the accidental deaths of two teenagers - in Clichy-sous-Bois.


Rap and hip-hop have been part of France's immigrant youth scene for so long that many of the original artists - like Joey Starr, MC Solaar and the group IAM - are now regarded as respected old-timers.


The new stars are men and women in their 20s - almost all of black African or Arab origin - such as Disiz La Peste, Diam's, Monsieur R, and the groups La Rumeur and Sniper.


Like the pioneers who featured 10 years ago in the hit film La Haine, their work continues to cast a revealing light on life in the cités and the conditions which helped provoked the sudden outpouring of violence three weeks ago.


Song after song dwells on the same themes of hopelessness, rejection by France, police harassment and the rage that follows.


Disiz La Peste, a 27-year-old of mixed Senegalese and French parentage whose real name is Serigne M'Baye, has just released his third album, entitled The Extraordinary Stories Of A Youth In The Banlieue.



The chorus of the title song goes: "For France it matters nothing what I do / In its mind I will always be / Just a youth from the banlieue".


"Few people in France have a normal attitude towards us. People are either fascinated or they are frightened. There are two worlds crashing against each other. People have a problem with us, and we do with them," he said in a recent interview.


Shock factor


It is undeniable that some of the lyrics of French rap songs - as in America - are shocking to the conservative-minded.


In Brigitte - Cop's Wife, Ministere A.M.E.R indulges in a pornographic fantasy which will not be to most tastes.


Other groups including Sniper and La Rumeur have been taken to court - unsuccessfully - for provocative lyrics.


And the rapper Monsieur R - whose real name is Richard Makela - was criticised for a recent song called FranSSe, in which he described France as a "chick ... treat her like a whore!"


But most French rap songs show a deep urge to articulate what would otherwise go unexpressed in words, and - whatever your feelings about the genre - many do so with invention.


The French language, with its repeated end of word inflections, is widely recognised as lending itself to rap, and even masters of the form in the US have been complimentary.


Today many French rappers are saying that if only their words had been listened to, the suburban violence might never have occurred.


"Instead of sleeping in the national assembly, government ministers should have listened to our albums. It's the youth of France talking," said Rim-K of 113.


Plea for calm


Some, such as Disiz La Peste, have called openly for an end to the rioting.


"Burning cars and schools - it only harms ourselves because it's happening in front of our own homes," he said.


"And we risk turning the working people, the poor of our neighbourhoods against us - because not unnaturally they are going to be afraid," La Peste said.


Maybe because of his mixed background, he takes an unusually balanced view of the trouble and of how to end it.


"First of all France must learn to say sorry - for history, for the colonies, because there is no equality of opportunity, because we can't get into nightclubs, because there are none of us on television or in the national assembly.


"But the youth must also learn to say thank you. It may be shocking for them - but in France at least people can still demonstrate and speak out," said La Peste

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An interesting article


French riots - Blame Socialism or Islam?


By: Amir Butler


In examining the recent riots across France, it is tempting to level blame on the supposedly irreconcilable differences between the secular West and Islam. The rioters, after all, were largely the children of Muslim migrants from North and West Africa; and the target of their rage was, after all, an archetypal secular polity. If much of the commentary is to be believed, these riots represent the opening battle in some sort of European intifada or an al-Qaeda inspired push to re-establish the Caliphate in the Parisian suburbs.


However, it is a simplistic reading of the situation that impugns Islam for the riots. Rather, the violence had little to do with some Muslim hostility towards democracy, but everything to do with economic problems that are largely unique to the socialist economies of 'old Europe'.


Unlike Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, France does not recognize multiculturalism. Migrants must assimilate and the state has undertaken a series of aggressive measures - such as banning Islamic hijab in public schools - to push the process along.


Integration is, however, more than merely forcing migrants to adopt some vacuous notion of 'Frenchness'. It is not enough that new entrants merely embrace some cultural affectations and give their children French names. Perhaps more importantly, migrants must be integrated economically. It is only by working, earning money and being financially independent that a person develops the self-respect and dignity needed to be a productive member of the social and cultural fabric of the society. This is where France has failed: whilst it has demanded its migrants assimilate culturally, the economy has offered little opportunity for economic assimilation.


The French economy is growing at just 1.2% and has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Europe. For those under 25, the unemployment rate is 22% (approximately twice the rate of the United States and Britain). In the banlieues, the poor suburbs where the riots erupted, youth unemployment is estimated to run at over 50%.


These alarmingly high levels of youth unemployment are caused by a rigid French labor market. France has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe and its workers enjoy the protection of strong unions and a variety of regulations that force short 35-hour work weeks, generous state pensions, and long holidays. It is very difficult for companies to rationalize staff numbers or hire temporarily. Meanwhile, with government spending accounting for roughly half the GDP and an escalating pension and social security burden, individuals and businesses endure stiflingly heavy taxation.


As a result, the French economy produces a miniscule number of new jobs each year as compared to the United Kingdom or United States. The high minimum wage exacerbates the problem by making it expensive to hire new staff. The result is obvious: businesses will discriminate in favor of job applicants with closer cultural ties to the dominant culture, more experience or already employed.


Therefore, migrants and the children of migrants are pushed to the margins. They are told that they are French by a system that refuses to recognize the multicultural face of French society, yet when they attempt to find employment soon realize that they are not competing on an equal footing. With laws preventing the collection of any statistical data based on ethnicity or religion, the French government remains blissfully unaware of these problems. This, in turn, builds resentment and a feeling of alienation amongst the young who find themselves excluded with no hope of economic or social ascent.


Instead of addressing the true cause of unemployment, the French government has plied these poor neighborhoods with public funds: government housing, hospitals, and generous social security payments. An emasculating dependence on handouts, aggressive demands of cultural assimilation, and yet little reciprocal hope of economic integration has created the cultural milieu that begot these riots.


In competitive, relatively liberalized labor markets, the ongoing demand for labor ensures employers cannot readily afford to discriminate on the irrelevant basis of race or religion. It is for this reason that ethnic groups in more liberal economies do not face the same social problems as those in countries such as France and its neighbors. It is also for this reason that it is unlikely that similar riots would ever occur in Australia or the United States. Regardless of what some opportunists now warn.


Amir Butler is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia.



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