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A journalist just phoned and reminded me that the riots in the French suburbs started this day five years ago.
I couldn’t believe my ears when I head a sociologist saying on a seminar a while ago that the car burning and riot delinquency going on regularly in this country is apolitical. According to him, these riots had neither symbols nor slogans. I can agree that “fuck Sarko” isn’t the most creative slogan you can come up with, but it’s still sort of a slogan. And if the CRS riot police is not a symbol of a certain securitarian policy, well, then, what is? The same goes for the republican schools that were set fire to in the autumn. (I shall agree that it’s not that easy to find the symbolic content in the act of burning your neighbour’s car).
“The demonstrators shall be protected, and the casseurs shall be taken in for questioning,” Interior Minister Sarkozy said some days ago. It’s not the first time Sarkozy has expresses his binary vision of the youth in this country (“real and fake youth”). For a minister in charge of interior security, the world might be this simple, (though I remember how he during the November riots used the to two single cases of attacks on humans to discredit the whole three week and enormously widespread revolt). To me it seems like this broad casseur category hides at least three distinct, but perhaps related phenomena: There are the anarchists and left wing radicals who attack the police (and far right “fachos”, if present). Attacks on publicity boards (JCDecaux) and perhaps also on banks and multinationals (as is common in i.e. the UK) can probably also be connected to this category of casseurs - although in my opinion a distinction should always be kept in mind between attacks on property and on humans (including police officers).
It wasn’t the climate the newspaper Le Parisien was thinking of when they some weeks ago wrote that March would be a “hot” month. And indeed they were right…
Two days ago President Jacques Chirac proclaimed the end of the state of emergency which has been in place in France for almost two months. At the same press conference, the president also announced that the law paragraph obliging teachers to “teach the positive effects of colonialism on the former French overseas territories” should be rewritten. The paragraph was implemented in February last year and has made it to the headlines once in a while since then. However, it wasn’t until after the November revolts that mainstream politicians, really started giving much attention to the controversial issue.
Message at bus stop at Place de la Nation, Sunday 11th December
I should have provided a proper welcome to my blog from Charonne (as I’ve moved house) and to the new name (Cicilie amongst the Parisians), but I’ll leave that for later. We’ll jump right into the action with an in medias res report from this sunny winter Sunday. Today I went hunting for posters from Les Racailles de France (the Riffraff of France). This group, consisting mainly of girls in their twenties from the suburbs of Paris, has put up 300 “commemorative plaques” in key areas of the capital, saying things like: “A homage to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to construct and reconstruct a France which keeps them, their children and grandchildren outlawed from society. When will there be a law on the positive role of immigration?”
Two weeks ago, at the time I finished my French lessons, I had planned to quietly sit down and rethink my research project. The goals of the project still seemed justified, but I was not sure about the approach; I felt I was about to suffer from a severe information overload.
A day at work…: I was about to get outside (its freezing, but sunny). Unfortunately, it was time for 12 o’clock news before I managed to escape.