November 8, 2005
PARIS BURNING: FRENCH 'MODEL OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION' UNDER SIEGE
** Rioting demonstrates that France's "model of social integration" has failed.
** Alienation, "economic marginalization" fuel unrest; some see "radical Islam" in the mix too.
** Some embrace more "multiculturalism," others blame it for growth of "parallel societies."
** France's leaders must act with "political courage" but de Villepin-Sarkozy rivalry interferes.
** France's troubles are a sign of wider European problem.
'France's intifada?'-- Editorialists attributed rioting in France to the "deep alienation" felt by immigrant youth after "decades of neglect" of the problems in bleak suburbs that "have spread like a cancer" throughout the country. Germany's right-of-center Die Welt argued France's "integration and social policies" had left a "lost generation" wandering the streets in "dilapidated suburbs, in which state structures only barely exist." Though born in France, the youths "feel neither French, nor like people in the countries their parents came from." Their economic "marginalization" and social discrimination leave young Muslims to lead lives "without any goal or any future," said one European analyst; another added that French politicians were now receiving the "bill of payment" for their "inaction" over decades.
A 'grim reminder' of failed policies-- While papers agreed that "France's model of social integration" had failed, commentators were of many minds about remedies. France's right-of-center Le Figaro argued the "root problem" was France's "unbridled immigration policy"; Italy's center-left Il Riformista countered that the "problem has to do more with class than with race." Some Euro writers counseled more "social and unemployment programs," noting "it is not enough to give citizenship if the rights from which it is derived cannot be exercised due to economic and social inequalities." Some editorials favored greater respect for "multiculturalism." But others insisted "multicultural tolerance" was to blame for the disturbances, by tolerating "the poverty and the isolation of those who cannot integrate socially because their mentality and lifestyles collide with the values" of France's "weak, secular" culture. A Romanian paper argued that immigrants had built "parallel societies based on values other than...official European ones"; an Israeli writer insisted that "radical Islam is part of the mix" in explaining the unrest.
Impact of de Villepin-Sarkozy 'battle for power'-- Writers agreed that the unrest has "taken a toll not only on tolerance and social harmony but also on the French political establishment." They highlighted the "fierce" rivalry between Prime Minister de Villepin and Interior Minister Sarkozy to succeed President Chirac. Said France's centrist La Tribune: "The prospect of the presidential election is...making people crazy," leaving the political class "inoperative." A British broadsheet accused Chirac and de Villepin of "opportunistically" exploiting Sarkozy's troubles after the latter's tough talk "backfired." A German analyst warned that "the only one who will benefit" by that kind of exploitation will be the "extreme right-wing" Nationalist Front of Jean-Marie le Pen.
'Europe is looking on in consternation'-- Media concluded other Euro countries should "take the French lesson seriously" and ask "why immigrants...are marginalized" and "turning against" their new homelands. Uganda's state-owned New Vision asserted that more riots "will erupt tomorrow unless the underlying inequalities are tackled." If politicians fail to address the issue, said Austria's Kurier, "a no-future generation will grow up, not just in France but also in other states--a generation that could topple all the European Union's values."
Prepared by Media Reaction Division (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 64 reports from 25 countries Nov. 3-8, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Integration And Work'
The independent Financial Times editorialized (11/8): "Nicholas Sarkozy, the interior minister, merits credit for raising the issue of economic marginalization. But his solution--positive discrimination--is a decidedly second-best plan. Better to fix the structures that create the marginalization in the first place."
"Riots In France Could Spread Through Europe"
The conservative Daily Telegraph asserted (11/8): "This is much more than a little local difficulty. In assimilating Muslim immigrants from Africa and Asia, France and its neighbors face a more profound problems than they did with the revolutionaries of previous eras. The cultural divide is greater and is being widened by a radical Islamic movement which preaches hatred of Western materialism. And the sense of impending crisis is deepened by the extraordinary weakness of those in office.... 1968 or 1848 it may not be, but there is in Western Europe a general feeling of malaise, of disillusionment with politicians, expressed by low voting figures. On this, the riots rocking France could feed."
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (11/7): "What is required is the creation of conditions for enterprise that will allow those stuck in the cités to break out of drear desperation through work. This was the advice given by this newspaper during the 2002 presidential election and the 2005 constitutional referendum campaign. The French government is now learning the cost of ignoring it."
"Violence Born Of Social Division"
The center-left Independent had this to say (11/7): "One thing is certain: the rioters are only adding to the suffering of their communities. The weekend's marches in the Paris suburbs protesting against the violence is a sign that the situation will not be allowed to continue forever. The riots will end--but the deep social divisions will remain. At least, until France gives serious consideration to what it needs to do to eradicate them."
The conservative Times editorialized (11/4): "The Paris riots have taken a toll not only on tolerance and social harmony but also on the French political establishment. Nicolas Sarkozy's populist image as the tough, straight-talking Interior Minister ready to enforce the law has backfired, even though his policies have generally been more thoughtful than those of his predecessors. For a week President Chirac and M. de Villepin have opportunistically exploited M. Sarkozy's troubles by standing back and refusing to intervene. Only now does the government seem to realize that unless France sets aside politicking to take a hard look at root causes, today's urban rioting could become violence on a much larger scale."
"An Explosion Of Anger"
The center-left Independent commented (11/4): "The French may scorn Britain's policy of multiculturalism, but these riots must surely confirm the failure of the French insistence on integration and assimilation. In practice, decades of neglect of the problems of immigrant minorities have led to deepening alienation. The violent consequences of that neglect are now unfolding on the streets."
FRANCE: "From Words To Action"
Pascal Aubert commented in centrist La Tribune (11/8): "No one expected PM Villepin to take ready-made measures out of his hat.... But what he did announce needed to be said. The first measures will not suffice.... What is needed is the political will to go from words to actions: a step that takes political courage."
Francoise Fressoz concluded in right-of-center Les Echos (11/8): "PM Villepin’s task is more difficult than PM Pompidou’s during the May '68 student revolt...because there are no clear demands.... His only weapons are his words and determination.... Even if words in themselves are not sufficient, it was necessary to recall the need for order."
"A Sad Farce"
Jean-Michel Thenard held in left-of-center Liberation (11/8): "The use of curfews and other legal measures set forth by the prime minister, which recall those used during the Algerian war, are the signs that France has made little progress in security issues.... Villepin’s answer is a poor one when in fact France’s main problem is the failure of its social model of integration."
"In The U.S., The Capitalistic Carrot And The Security Stick"
Pierre-Yves Dugua observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/8): "America’s model may not be egalitarian, but it is integrationist. While the U.S. may not have resolved the matter of its ghettos, it has reduced unemployment among its minorities. Capitalism does incite minorities to integrate into the economic system.... In a nation where private enterprise is encouraged, the gratuitous destruction of private property is not tolerated.... Capitalism also dictates the need to defend private property: Americans have a different relationship than the French to their police force...and the prolonged detention of delinquents is considered a positive measure for the protection of honest citizens."
"The Suburbs Thirty Years Later"
Alexis Bezet judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/04): "The figures speak for themselves.... Every couple of years, like today, our suburbs explode and call attention to themselves. Soon after, France forgets.... Could not our politicians deal with the root of the problem? It is France’s unbridled immigration policy which has taken us to where we are today.... It is urgent to control the flow of both legal and illegal immigration.... And so we must be firm, adopt a preventive approach without turning to band-aid solutions. And of course concentrate on education. Most of all we need courage: our situation today is the result of 30 years of blindness. It may take as long to cure the problem."
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (11/4): "We can but smile at the headlines of the foreign press calling our suburban violence 'our own Intifada.' But we must denounce those who are quick to call it a civil war.... This violence is the doing of a minority. Two mistakes are to be avoided: falling into the trap of escalation, violence, repression; the second is to give into the temptation of abandoning a territory which our own politicians have undermined by their inaction."
"A Presidential Waste"
Francois-Xavier Pietri took this view in centrist La Tribune (11/4): "The prospect of the presidential election is indeed making people crazy. It is certainly making the political class totally inoperative. The battle for power within the government between Interior Minister Sarkozy and PM Villepin has totally hidden from view the real problems of our suburbs."
GERMANY: "French Situations"
Stefan Dietrich argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/8): "People are right who point to the differences between 'law-free zones' in French cities and social trouble spots in Germany. But what can be compared in both countries is the ignorance with which politicians and society react to the increase in social problems at their front doors. In France, the entire republic can be paralyzed to maintain the privileges of public servants. But only tranquilizers, which have no effect, are available for a policy that also opens up education and promotion prospects for the underclass. That is why German politicians should not be too certain that they are not threatened by the French situation for the time being."
Dietrich Alexander observed in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/8): "The French must cruelly recognize that their integration and social policies resembles a pile of debris. It is certainly true that there is no master plan for the integration of immigrants.... Today we can see in the dilapidated suburbs, in which state structures only barely exist and where they have left almost 'law-free' zones, a lost generations in the streets. A high unemployment and the feeling to be rejected by society due to their race are the seed for the hatred of the young people who no longer get any support in destroyed family structures.... The government should now by no means give up its monopoly to use power and should not capitulate to a marauding mob. And once law and order have been restored, there cannot be a simple return to everyday business, no vain struggle for power and influence. France needs social and employment programs for those whom the interior minister described in his immoderate arrogance as 'scum.' The country is burning and Chirac no longer has the force to extinguish the fire. Where is the second de Gaulle?"
"An Area Where The Law Does Not Exist"
Jochen Hehn had this to say in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/4): "We cannot be surprised at the pictures of blind destruction and escalating violence which have been flickering over TV screens from Paris suburbs for more than a week now.... These suburbs have been in existence for many years and have spread like a cancer across France as a whole and continue to grow.... Many have dilapidated and turned into permanently explosive areas where the law is no longer valid. The helpless reactions from politicians from the right and the left emphasize this.... The problems in the problematic suburbs have been known for a long time. The chronic failure of schools is the greatest problem and is no coincidence.... But there is not only a lack of schools and teachers, but also of doctors and shops, attractive leisure time facilities, and safe bus and train connections. Without enormous infrastructure investments in these problematic suburbs, an improvement cannot be brought about. Well-meant proposals like the introduction of the right to vote for immigrants...will go past the core of the problem. By politically exploiting the unrest in the suburbs for personal careers, as some people are again trying, politicians of the established parties like the many millions who live in these suburbs will only lose. The only one who will benefit will be the extremist right-wing National Front of Jean-Marie le Pen for whom burning suburbs are grist to the mill. If government and opposition again miss the opportunity to alleviate the problems in the suburbs, we can already adjust to a new triumph by Le Pen in the presidential elections in 18 months."
"Writing On the Wall In France"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg had this to say (11/4): "Poor suburbs in which immigrants and ethnic minorities live in a small area without having any prospect of climbing the social ladder have existed in almost all western European countries and in the United States. The irritating thing about the eruption of violence in France is that some preconditions for integration have been met which are still controversial in other countries, including Germany. Many young people speak the national language, have French nationality and come from regions in Northern Africa on which France has put its cultural mark, and the French state always initiated social programs for the problematic suburbs and disadvantaged groups.... But the results are not much better than the ones in the United States with its allegedly laissez-faire approach.... That is why an interior minister, who comes on strong with an even greater police force, is coming too late in view of the state of the downward spiral. It is now decisive to open up new opportunities for the young in particular to enter society with new education offers, but also with a labor market policy that offers the weaker parts lasting chances to find a job. In this respect, the French model obviously failed."
"Violence Is Escalating In The Suburbs"
Gerd Kröncke penned the following editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/3): "The France, we can see in the ghettoes of the suburbs, has little in common with the situation in the rest of the country, and thus far no government has succeeded in reconciling both parts. What is missing is a binding consensus. In the suburbs, people do not sing the 'Marseillaise' and when it is played in the soccer stadiums, many people will whistle it down. But even if Interior Minister Sarkozy is right in several respects, with his remarks to 'clean up' the suburbs or to describe the young as 'rabble,' he only pours oil into the fire. Cars continue to be set afire night after night. The socialist mayors of the problematic areas are desperate. But even the left-wing predecessor government did not succeed in bringing peace to the suburbs. Attempts to integrate the immigrants of the third generation have failed."
ITALY: "The Young 'Browns' Are Not Immigrants"
Guido Bolaffi argued in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (11/8): "It is improper, and therefore also wrong to call into question immigration when the protagonists of today’s crisis, as we have already signaled regarding the authors of the London bombings, are not immigrants but citizens of that country. This is an important distinction, and if it is overlooked, it could confuse ideas and turn the immigration question into sharkskin that everyone can pull in one direction or another to suit his purpose.... Behind the destructive fury of the French streets one can catch a glimpse of a desperate...request for integration on the part of generations that were left to themselves. The problem has to do more with class than with race. It is a real social clash, worsened by the frustrating impotence before an exclusion that is not only irreversible but also 'irreproachable,' protected by the untouchable principles of the most abstract égalité."
"The Great Illusion Of Laicism"
Gaetano Quagliarello wrote in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (11/8): "Those who want to learn something from the French situation must first of all avoid generalizations and look at the reality of phenomena in their historical, social and political framework. To affirm that what happened in Paris could happen elsewhere is redundant. This scenario cannot be avoided with good sentiments or with a demagogic sermon. Much more serious integration policies are needed--policies that finally take into consideration multicultural recipes."
"Burned Ideologies In The Suburbs"
Gianni Riotta observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/7): "It is crucial to defend the Western cultural model, values, traditions.... Certainly, it is not enough to give work to unemployed Muslims in order to integrate them. But to frighten two adolescents to the point that they are burned in a power station--as proof of political machismo--is a cruel demonstration of weakness.... This judgment does not change if we move from the urban guerrillas in Paris to the death camps in Iraq. The West has been divided for the past three years between 'peace and war' and it doesn't realize that it has pursued a hypocritical peace and a war organized by amateurs, with the result that it has neither proposed the Iraqis with an orderly country nor a model of democratic growth.... The fires of the French nights will die out, as did the ones during Halloween in the ghetto of Detroit.... We need strength and wisdom, to isolate the nihilists and to give a generation of excluded people the human conditions that we have not known how to organize, due to our arrogance."
"How to Placate This Hatred"
Renzo Guolo opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/7): "The glare of the fires that illuminate French nights demonstrate the limits of the model of integration of immigrants that has been thus far adopted in Europe.... France has realized that the model...which is generous in providing access to citizenship and formal equality, is not sufficient to produce integration among its citizens who live in the suburbs. In other words, it is not enough to give citizenship if the rights from which it is derived cannot be exercised due to economic and social inequalities.... Without state intervention to address these issues, not only France, but also all of Europe, is destined to become a stage in the coming years for new uprisings of hatred. Those who believe that Islamic groups are to blame are wrong. But the Islamic organizations that in these hours have acted as 'firemen' to put out the social fire, have served as institutional substitutions, by filling the void left by parties and institutions.... Therefore, a real policy of integration is indispensable before the social polarization turns into a...clash over values."
Domenico Quirico observed from Paris in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/3): "Cars are still burning in five districts.... And it is likely that all those great presidential expectations of Nicolas Sarkozy, the Minister of Interior, are burning as well."
RUSSIA: "Too Much Incendiary Stuff"
A. Safarin penned this in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/8): "Clearly, the riots have social, not ethnic or religious, roots. Arab youths, for all their formal equality, have no chance of a decent life now or in the future. This accounts for the current seemingly senseless outburst. Acknowledging it, the French government speaks of plans for major social reforms in migrant-populated suburbs.... An imprudent immigration policy is a major source of trouble. Europe, a key center of globalization, is beginning to realize this as well. Even before the current riots, the French feared an influx of Poles and other nationals from Eastern Europe. But their biggest scare was huge Muslim Turkey’s bid for EU membership. Now, amidst riots, there must be no doubt in anybody’s mind that Turkey will be barred from the EU for a long time, if not forever."
Vadim Markushin held in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (11/8): "The current riots with cars afire and shop windows smashed differ greatly from industrial workers' and peasants' revolts in the past. Those involved in the unrest are not of native, French, stock. They are immigrants from Muslim countries who came in search of a better life and settled in France. French citizens now, they demand rights equal to those of the indigenous population, thinking little of the obligations that come with those rights. The said discrepancy must prevail among all others behind the disturbances in France and elsewhere. With pogroms risking provoking the 5,000,000-strong Muslim Diaspora, the government has been very cautious. But its indecisiveness may embolden the troublemakers. As the situation is very complicated, there is no telling how it will end."
Youth-oriented Komsomol’skaya Pravda editorialized (11/8): "As the French are sinking...the rest of Europe is looking on in consternation, wondering if it will follow."
"A Clash Of Civilizations"
Nataliya Gevorkyan summed up in business-oriented Kommersant (11/8): "Unable to integrate into that country’s life, these people build their own. What is happening in France is a clash of two civilizations that will never become one."
"War Of Worlds"
Fedor Lukyanov stated in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/7): "They ravage Parisian suburbs to make themselves heard and recognized. If this is what they are after, they’ve done it. Now the whole world knows that some of the most aggressive people in France don’t consider France their country and will stop at nothing to get their way. Most striking is Europe's reaction, remote. Even today, amidst shocking reports from the streets of Paris, European elites pretend that what is going on is purely French. The fact is that nobody knows how to deal with foreigners refusing or unable to integrate. The Paris riots are a grim reminder that the policy of multiculturalism is seriously flawed."
Vladislav Inozemptsev said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/7): "The world’s most revolutionary nation is living through a new 'revolution,' with the down and out setting cars on fire, looting shops and restaurants, and increasingly fighting back as the police try to restore public order. This is the visible side of the events that, hopefully, will make the French elite and society review their outlook and ideology.... The chief reason (behind the discontent) is hate for the successful. It is stronger than class hatred and is rooted not in the unfair distribution of national wealth, but in its fair distribution. Under the circumstances, social reform won’t solve the problem. Abandoning old social integration models is what needs to be done in the first place.... The healthy forces of society find it ever more difficult to reject minorities' demands--for the most part absolutely unfounded--without being labeled as nationalists. But Europe, so it seems, will soon stop being ashamed of the label or face a severe verdict."
"Black Days Of Paris"
Nikolay Paklin filed from Paris for official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/7): "Though born in France, they feel neither French, nor like people in the countries their parents came from. And there is no way for them to escape what life has in store for them in their off-limits suburbs. Outbursts like this are a rare chance to make yourself and your suburb-state known to the world, give vent to emotion, and assert yourself.... So far, the French integration model--we’re all French, no matter our origin--has been ineffective, as shown by the 'fall revolution' in Parisian suburbs."
"Aliens In Paris"
Vadim Rechkalov contended in youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (11/7): "Whatever historical guilt the French may feel with regard to Algerians and other aliens, they carry it to an absurdity.... There is an opinion that immigrants may be bad or good. Bad immigrants live the way they used to live back in their home countries.... Good immigrants try to integrate into their new society."
AUSTRIA: "Warning From The EU Capital"
Margaretha Kopeinig wrote in mass-circulation Kurier (11/8): "What lends an explosive quality to the EU report on Turkey is the rejection of a Turkish EU membership by several member states. Added to this are the violent riots in France and the growing debate about cultural, religious, political and social values in the entire Union. In France, the current debate over values is part of the problem. The rebellious and rioting youths in the slums in the outskirts of the big cities are mostly Muslims who have grown up in the West. Reducing the debate about the obviously failed integration to the categories 'Christian' and 'Islamic' would be one-sided and not far-reaching enough. More is at stake here; for instance, the question of how coexistence in the EU among citizens of different skin color, lifestyles, experiences and education can be better organized than is so far the case. These are issues to which the EU and its aspiring members such as Turkey and the Balkan countries will have to give more serious attention. If the politicians miss this opportunity, a no-future generation will grow up, not just in France but also in other states--a generation that could topple all the European Union's values."
"Despair In The Satellite Cities"
Christoph Winder judged in independent Der Standard (11/4): "Sarkozy's firebrand speeches divert attention from the fact that the French state is striving to solve its satellite cities problem--in which it has a considerable stake, thanks to botched city planning policy 50 years ago--by other means than police action. For decades, governments have exerted themselves with architectonic and other measures for dealing with the difficulties. The most appalling concrete blocks are being town down, actions are being refocused, and money is going into education in the ghettoes. All this to no avail, however. The current development is all the more shocking since the urban crisis areas are being sacrificed to a logic that leads to the tearing down of the bridges to the rest of the world. It is not rare that extremist hate preachers, who tell desperate young people that violence is the only alternative, fill the vacuum that state authorities and private aid organizations have left behind. The unrest of the past days bears the mark of many national characteristics and failings. However, the other European countries should take the French lesson seriously and step up their efforts for integration of their immigrants--not just to pull the rug from under unscrupulous populists but also to ensure the peaceful coherence of society as a whole."
"The Fight Of Two Rivals"
Ernst Heinrich argued in mass-circulation provincial daily Kleine Zeitung (11/4): "There is a fierce fight between two rivals going on in the glaring light of burning cars--the fight between two men who both want to succeed Jacques Chirac as head of state. Here Sarkozy, who favors a persistently tough stance towards the rioters; there de Villepin, who has not yet let go of the dream of integrating immigrants from France's former colonies, in spite of the fact that it has become clear that all attempts to integrate third-generation migrants into French society have failed. Disappointment with the society that has crowded them into grim satellite cities, these young people are now scaring the other, prosperous part of France. They have ceased to expect anything from politics, which reacts to the problems either with exaggerated welfare programs, toughness or ignorance. True, the government has announced programs to remodel cities and aid to relieve unemployment. However, it also tried that 20 years ago. Since then, much has changed in the satellite cities--but none of it for the better."
Foreign affairs writer Ivan Broeckmeyer noted in independent financial daily De Tijd (11/5): "Thanks to the European welfare state the people in the suburbs are usually better off than the poor in the ghettos in the United States. It is a paradox that many of those poor--even the illegal newcomers who barely speak English--still embrace the 'American dream.' As sophisticated Europeans we are irritated by the American mania to wave the 'Stars and Stripes' and to call on the Lord at proper and improper moments. Apparently, a heterogeneous society needs simple recognizable symbols to create minimal cohesion.... It is a fact that adrift youngsters from Arab origin can find a substitute in the radical Islam for their vanished family and national frames of reference. Islam experts and terror fighters have warned of the explosive cocktail that is created when Muslim extremists recruit followers among 'ordinary' foreign criminals in prisons.... One must not entertain the illusion that Muslim extremism...can be eradicated completely. We must prevent most immigrant Muslim youngsters from becoming 'contaminated' by the virus. However, those who plead for a tolerant European Islam must have an elementary notion of the European identity in which that Islam should fit. That is where the problem lies. At this moment the most obvious aspect of the European identity seems to be fear--fear of the economic globalization waves that hit the old continent increasingly hard; fear of the newcomers in our societies; fear of the future. That can hardly be termed a mobilizing project."
CROATIA: "Riots In Heart Of Europe"
Kresimir Fijacko penned this in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik (11/8): "Where did France go wrong? Is it maybe also wrong now when it prefers to call the violent explosion of dissatisfaction and poor immigrant's riot a 'local sport,' or a passing excess, rather than a riot which is starting to have the character of religious wars? Violence which France is suddenly facing is, of course, not acceptable, but what are its causes, and how realistic Minister Sarkozy really is when he says that 'after riots calm down, we should talk about what needs to be done.'... By barely ever accepting a debate about its immigrants, which has only made problems deeper, France now shows readiness to finally set it in motion. However, because of the riot's noise in the streets, one can barely talk."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Paris May One Day Also Burn In Prague"
Dan Drapal remarked in leading, centrist MF Dnes (11/8): "The riots in France should pose a serious warning for the Czech Republic. If we do not start dealing with the Roma minority problem we may be facing similar riots in several years. The parallels between the immigrants in France and the Czech Roma population are many (high birth rate, unemployment, dependency on social benefits, blindness of politicians to the problems, the absence of any representative body of the minority, that could express their claims).... Problems are intensified in a society that stresses pseudo-liberal theories that 'everyone is entitled to practice his own rights' that no universal truths exists, that everything is relative, and that freedom is more valuable than truth.... Maybe we should start thinking about the old saying that claims, 'Instruct your son about his duties and you will raise an active man. Instruct your son about his rights and you will bring up a rebel.'"
"Besides Cars, Illusions Also Burn In Paris"
Milan Vodicka noted in the mainstream center-right MF Dnes (11/5): "Together with cars, illusions about a peaceful multicultural world, where one side will eat falafel...and the other pork, has burned to ashes.... In one year three models of co-existence with immigrants in Europe have failed (France, London bombings, van Gogh in Holland). Europe will now start blaming itself for not really accepting its immigrants. But it should also be noted that the immigrants themselves have not made the process easier. They went on living, in their little islands of seclusion, as before. The second generation doesn’t belong here nor there.... It is not possible to ignore the problem any longer. The idea of multiculturalism received heavy blows and nobody, least of all the politicians, knows what to do. To make the problem worse, Europe is in a demographic decline and needs new immigrants to sustain its prosperity. What can we do?!"
"The French Payment Due"
Adam Cerny commented in the business Hospodarske noviny (11/7): "Both the ruling right-wing French government and the previous left-wing one are to blame for the fact that the suburbs of French cities resemble isolated ghettos where the police have lost any respect. There has not been even the slightest possible consensus on the solution of the problem of immigrants among the main political parties. Periods of investment and support for employment were followed by policy of firm hand, but the helplessness and often the wish to put the problem aside were behind both. The bill of payment which the French politicians have now received is high and it will take a long time to pay it off. The concealed rivalries on the right and the bad conscience on the left that often reign in the suburban town halls do not promise that anything useful will come from them in an atmosphere in which officials think more about the elections in 2007 than about anything else."
"Paying For One’s Mistakes"
Pavel Verner declared in the center-left Pravo (11/7): "The reason for the terror in the French suburbs bordering on a civil war are not the lost lives of two youths--they only triggered the current outbreak of violence. The reason is the negative energy of young Muslims caused by their lives without any goal or any future. It would be erroneous only to look for an explanation of the crisis in the social area. Unlike in Sudan, Pakistan or Bangladesh, unemployed French Muslims at least have a roof above their heads, food and clothing. However, they desperately miss a life program. What else remained for the French government but to send the army against the rioting youth? However, the army should be followed by the creators of employment and educational programs, and naturally with heavy bags full of money on their backs because it is necessary to pay for historical mistakes."
"What Is Burning In Paris?"
Leading business daily Hospodarkse noviny commented (11/3): "Ruling politicians are attacking each other and the Left opposition is shouting about a scandal--but what is going on in the Paris suburbs might reduce the political ambitions of both to ashes."
Tibor Kiss declared in center-left Nepszabadsag (11/7): "The majority [of the French population], of course, thinks about the developments in terms of a more complicated framework. This is why they might be now the most scared and the most pessimistic. Since they find that the problems have deeper roots than the populists or the Islamists think. And the real object of their worries is the famous French integration model, which, based on social solidarity and justice, has been working well for decades. However, globalization, lack of resources and economic rationalism gaining ground have gradually eroded its values."
POLAND: "It Was Inevitable"
Krzysztof Warecki wrote in radical Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik (11/8): "France and other countries in a similar situation are reaping the poisoned fruit of their wrong policies. On the one hand, the masons who govern France, by destroying Christianity, destroyed the clear cultural-religious face of this country; on the other hand, they allowed an influx of large numbers of immigrants to France, who represent a totally different civilization. In this situation, a confrontation was just a matter of time. [The conflict] erupted when police, by doing their duty, violated the unwritten extraterritoriality status of the sprawling ghettos, which quietly had become states within states, foreign enclaves over which the Republic of France lost real control. The latest developments mercilessly lay bare the weakness of the secular republic and demonstrate the power of Islamic masses that can easily fall under the control of extremists dreaming of the Euro-caliphate."
"May Europe Remain Itself"
Jedrzej Bielecki wrote in centrist Rzeczospolita (11/7): "France has been experiencing its most serious turmoil since May 1968. The consequences can be very grave, and they can affect not only France, but the whole of Western Europe.... Simple recipes relying on forceful denationalization of immigrants, or even their expulsion, turned out unsuccessful. The overwhelming majority of the immigrants were born in Europe, they are citizens of their new native lands. It is their work, and the work of their parents and grandparents, that contributed largely to the huge growth of West European countries in the 1950s, 1960s, and the 1970s. Thus, neither moral nor legal principles allow actions without the consent of the immigrant inhabitants. The more so, as a Europe that is suffering from a demographic low may not cope without new immigrants. It appears that the only recipe is to build a multicultural society, in which traditions, religions, and convictions of each and every one enjoy equal treatment...unless they hurt others. It is a very difficult process, one that resembles in many aspects what the United States went through by integrating its citizens who came from various cultures and parts of the world. Perhaps, though, it is unavoidable if 'liberty, equality, fraternity' should continue to matter in France and Europe."
"They Are Burning Paris"
Jacek Kubiak judged in Catholic mainstream weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (11/7): "The [French] government is treating the situation seriously, but its recipes are not convincing. The communities in poor apartment houses, who are economically disadvantaged and feel the contempt of the 'real' French, have formed for decades...and it will take as long to reabsorb them (if it happens at all). The problem cannot be solved with a magic wand--which is something minister of social affairs Jean-Louis Borloo wants when he offers building single-family-housing developments with a 'human' dimension. The idea may be good, but it is expensive, and its implementation would take years. By the time Minister Borloo’s magic wand begins to work, Paris' suburbs may burn down."
ROMANIA: "What Republican Values?"
Cristian Campeanu commented in independent Romania Libera (11/8): "These young people are not French not because they’re ethnically or racially different, but because they’re anything but citizens. The values they cherish are, first and foremost, of tribal and religious nature. Despite the fact that France brags about its ‘community-based’ model, it simply hasn’t been capable of integrating the massive wave of immigrants that it hosts.... The French riots emphasize certain conclusions that cannot be avoided. First, it’s obvious that the French state did not comply with the republican duties it had undertaken, not because it didn’t want to, but because it just couldn't. Even though they are generous, the republican ideals are not part of these young men’s DNA, no matter how scandalous this may sound.... The immigrant communities...have built parallel societies based on values other than the official European ones. It’s about an anti-European civilization that is to be found nowhere but in Europe. The beginning of the solution is the identification of the problem. If, out of ideological reasons, no matter how high or noble, the European states continue to ignore the existence of this parallel society, the consequences can be disastrous. First, because there’s the risk of open generalized confrontations, and second because there are always extremists who are eager to take advantage of it."
SPAIN: "Paris As A Symptom"
Conservative ABC editorialized (11/8): "The welfare state seems incapable of overcoming its own insufficiencies, and its interventionist solutions are proving to be impotent in the face of globalization. In this context, the second generation of immigrants introduces a singularly complex factor. The profile of the terrorists who orchestrated the June 7 London attacks surprised those who thought that any integration problem was resolved. Now, the peripheral neighborhoods of Paris and many other cities are the scene of an authentic urban rebellion against the impotence of a political class.... The facts demonstrate the failure of the British policy, which attempted a juxtaposition of diverse of cultures, and of the French theory, of a republican citizenry.... One must insist on policies of integration over time that reinforce the mechanisms that guarantee public security, among them, control of the messages transmitted by radicals who are beneficiaries of the liberty of the State of Law to preach hate and violence.... More than a problem of public order, we are in a trial by fire to strengthen democratic societies."
"Lessons From The French Fire"
Independent El Mundo had this to say (11/8): "In this context, Islam acts first as a uniting element and then as a catalyst.... But in many cases the discourse of local imams itself has fed hatred against all that is from the West, taking advantage of the prolonged economic crisis suffered by France. Massive and badly integrated immigration, an Islam beyond the efficient control of the State, and a high rate of unemployment are the three ingredients of a dangerous cocktail that has ended up exploding."
"France: A Patient In Flames"
Conservative ABC held (11/7): "The disturbances in the outskirts of Paris reveal that France is sick. The illness that affects French society is structural. It equally affects a large part of the political class and its institutions, the economy, and the values that organize civil coexistence in the country.... France lives with a permanent legislative blockade that prevents it from addressing any liberalization of its stagnant structures even while public spending and the national deficit are growing.... Multicultural tolerance has fomented the marginalization of an entire generation, the majority of which are the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Muslim countries. It has done so by legitimizing differences between cultures within a climate of tolerance that in practice has denied condemning the poverty and the isolation of those who cannot integrate socially because their mentality and lifestyles collide with the values of a culture that is profoundly weak, secular, and equalitarian like those of the French."
SWEDEN: "Which Spark Set It All Off?"
Conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (11/4): "We have seen similar riots before in suburbs of Paris and London.... We will see them again and there is nothing that guarantees that Swedish suburbs will not be hit.... Why? The cause for this can partly be found in the inability of the majority to see those on the outside, and also in the destructive social patterns among outsiders, which can only be broken by their own efforts. Perhaps some ideas can be picked up from the U.S. .... One should ask the question why immigrants to Europe are marginalized and are turning against their new homelands, while the U.S. seems to be able to receive numerous people without creating corresponding tensions--although challenges in the form of economic and social discrimination are not lacking there.... What is striking is the difference in unemployment among American and European immigrants. While there is far more than 50% unemployment in some immigrant groups in European countries, about nine out of 10 immigrants to the U.S. have a job within six months. One can suspect that an open labor market is important for people in the suburbs."
"French Riots Give Europe A Cold Shiver"
Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter observed (11/4): "The French slum areas are not the only ones of their kind in Europe. The very same situation exists in the ghettos of other European big cities. The problem is not immigration as such...but rather economic and social isolation, and alienation.... The French government is right when saying that a simple hard-line strategy will not be enough. Unfortunately it, like other governments, has difficulty seeing that the only long-term solution is a liberal economic policy that can bring about better growth."
TURKEY: "France Pays For Its Racist Policies"
Hakan Celik commented in mass-appeal tabloid Posta (11/8): "France has never treated its immigrants from Northern Africa as its own citizens. On the contrary, France forced them into ghettos. While the UK has managed to integrate foreigners successfully, France has continuously excluded them from public life.... Referring to the protesting immigrants as 'looters,' Interior Minister Sarkozy reflects this same racist approach. In the past, he has also been outspoken in his campaign to exclude Turkey from the EU. France’s power is in continuous decline because it cannot keep up with this century’s pace of change on political, social, and economic issues."
ISRAEL: "The Paris Intifada"
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/8): "The instinctive reaction in France to the rioting has been twofold: a pledge to restore security and to address the 'causes' of the rioting: the deprivation, discrimination, alienation, and rootlessness of the rampaging, largely Muslim, youth. One cannot argue with either of these two points. But French policy makers would be unwise to overlook the religious, ideological dimensions of the battle, and the way Islamic radicals preaching from the mosques and spewing out hatred via the Internet are able to prey on this disaffection and import a toxic ideology into France and the heart of Europe. True, the current riots in France may be about rootlessness and alienation of minority youth, but they are not only about rootlessness and alienation. Radical Islam is part of the mix as well, and the French will ignore that at their own peril."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Live Cinder Boxes"
The pro-government, English-language Arab News maintained (Internet version, 11/7): "The violence has forced the French to confront long-simmering anger in poor suburbs ringing the big cities which are mainly populated by immigrants and their French-born families, often from Muslim North Africa. These are the zones of high unemployment, discrimination and despair, fertile terrain for crime of all sorts of extremists and frustrated youths. For all their frightening dimensions the riots have not taken on the qualities of a full-scale rebellion. But because of the sheer speed by which the riots are spreading and the inability of the authorities to halt them, there is a sense that a revolution of sorts is in the making. At the very least, in order to cope with its unassimilated, unaccepted minorities, France must recognize that populations confined in ghettos and victimized by discrimination are live cinder boxes waiting to explode.... It comes as no surprise that the many towns in suburban Paris that have been hit worst by the riots are marked by high unemployment (more than double the national average), widespread poverty, a younger population, unchecked crime, violence and, until recently, minimal police presence. Nor should it come as a surprise that these towns of second- and third-generation immigrant poor, crammed into high-rise public housing and politically disenfranchised--there are no black or Arab TV presenters, and all MPs from mainland France are white--are the origin of so much unrest and upheaval. There are five million Muslims in France, the largest Islamic population in Western Europe, but they are by all accounts the least cared for. Now they and their grievances have come to the fore and the test facing French authorities is huge.... This is a spontaneous outburst for recognition, following decades of simmering, by those living on society’s margins."
UAE: "Where Is Chirac, Why Is He Quiet?"
The English-language, expatriate-oriented Gulf News judged (Internet version, 11/7): "Where is the president of the French republic? The suburbs of Paris are ablaze and the virus of chaos has spread to Lyon, Strasbourg and Rouen. Yet Jacques Chirac is strangely quiet. The riots have revealed the rage of the most impoverished of France's citizens and seriously undermined its claim to be a modern, racially integrated society. It has also shown up a power vacuum at the heart of the cabinet where two pretenders to Chirac's throne, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, battle it out. Their rivalry is hampering the political process and response to the crisis turning Chirac's silence into political ineptitude. France is battling not just with rioters but with the very notion of multiculturalism and the failure of its once-vaunted social integration policies. Yes, criminal gangs are at work...but the root cause of these disturbances is a very real sense of isolation felt by young people in France, not all of them sons and daughters of immigrants. The past week has also shown that many of the 14- to 25-year-olds now rioting, as distinct from those who took to the streets a decade ago, are not crying out for jobs, training or integration. Amid unemployment rates of 20-30 percent on the housing estates and racism outside, they have given up. Many but far from all of the rioters have been children of North African immigrants. France is home to Europe's largest Muslim population and a third of its estimated six million people of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian origin live in the ghettos. For years, French integration policies have been based around the republican tenet of secularism. A noble aspiration, but France must also learn how to embrace inclusion."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Society Can't Afford Outsiders"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald concluded (Internet version, 11/7): "The French government, and apparently much of the populace, has been willing to ignore their plight despite the proud national values of liberty, equality and fraternity. If there is one coherent message in the successive nights of rioting and violence in the run-down housing estates--beyond the expression of rage and despair--it is that no society can afford to create outsiders.... Order must be restored, but Mr. Sarkozy has been both reckless and wrong. Policing can never solve social problems decades in the making."
JAPAN: "French Immigration Policy Called Into Question"
Business daily Nihon Keizai judged (11/8): "Riots have been raging all over France, spreading to the capital of Paris last weekend. The main participants in the violence are the children of Arab or African immigrants, and it appears that their frustrations over unemployment and poverty have exploded. What the government must first do is make every effort to get the situation under control. At the same time, it should address the difficult issue of reviewing its immigration policy. France has the largest Islamic community in Europe, with the country's 5 million believers accounting for 8 percent of the entire population.... At present, most of those directing the violence are people around the age of 20, who are believed to have little in the way of religious or political motives. What the government likely fears most is that these youths will join with Islamic radicals. The government must take action to prevent such a situation from occurring. The first thing it should consider is how to provide jobs, and then it should review housing policy.... Though it is easy to say these measures are necessary, implementing them will be difficult. Other European nations should not look on the situation in France indifferently. This past July, Britain was the victim of terrorist attacks by radical Islamic groups."
INDONESIA: "Riots Rock France"
Leading independent Kompas stated (11/7): "The rioting is a reflection of complicated problems that France has to face.... Oftentimes riots in developed countries, like what France is currently experiencing, are used by state officials in developing countries to highlight the economic gap, racial sentiment, and prejudice of ideology.... However, it must be acknowledged that no matter how wide the social gap is in developed countries, it is not as bad as in developing countries."
THAILAND: "Paris Riots Expose Social Ills"
The independent, English-language Nation editorialized (11/8): "Rioting provides a way for these second-class citizens to protest a system they feel is keeping them down. No country in the world can lay claim to a harmonious race-relations model that has worked in the past, continues to work today and will work in the future without regular adjustments and overhauls. The process to correct the injustices may be long and fraught with obstacles, but the time to start is now. And the most crucial first step is the restoration of law and order."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
IRAN: "The Face Behind The Mask"
Hard-line, pro-Khamenei Kayhan editorialized (11/6): "Racist, social and financial rifts have been revived in the heart of the Europe's ideology and has seriously shocked the West.... Now the efficiency and legitimacy of European governments will be challenged one after the other. These incidents prove that these countries that are the symbol of democracy, and serving the people have an ugly pockmarked face behind the mask of democracy."
"Government's Scandalous Tactics"
Conservative Resalat commented (11/6): "Poverty and social discrimination among the people of Paris particularly among the Muslims and immigrants and non-Caucasoid people have provided the potentials of a public rebellion and may lead to a social movement in France. It is scandalous for a country that is known as birthplace of democracy and is one of the most serious defender of the human rights to crack down this movement.... The government has adopted the tactic of violence and bullet to curb this movement."
"People Are The Winners"
Reformist Sharq had this to say (11/6): "The Paris disturbance has been triggered in its suburbia.... The negative vote of the people in France to the European constitution disclosed the anxiety and fearfulness of the people from their bad economic situation and the high rate of unemployment in the country.... Now French citizens, on the basis of their democratic rules, have come to streets to find what they have been looking for at the polling stations. The final winner of these incidents is the people."
UGANDA: "French Must Face Global Reality"
The state -owned New Vision judged (11/7): "Racial discrimination is banned in France but in reality is widespread. Yet France is just the latest in a number of countries that have been hit by racial tension. French police might stop the riots today, but more will erupt tomorrow unless the underlying inequalities are tackled. As the French experience shows, such tensions erupt when significant minority sections of the community are denied their rightful place. More and more minorities will face discrimination as the reality of the global village brings people of different races and economic power into greater proximity. The challenge for every community is to ensure that nobody is locked out."
CANADA: "Why Paris Is Burning"
The conservative Montreal Gazette editorialized (11/4): "The flashpoint dramatically illustrates the tectonic social and economic fault lines that lie just beneath the serene surface in the land of liberté, égalité and fraternité. France is fond of lecturing the world about liberty and the Rights of Man. The French do have a point: scoffing Americans who love their 'freedom fries' would do well to remember that the foundations of their democracy were laid in large part by the philosophes of the enlightenment, highfalutin' though that may sound. That said, though, what has France done lately?... Paris has never seriously tried to integrate the mostly poor, uneducated laborers into the true fabric of French social and economic life. They were tolerated as long as they performed menial tasks, but not allowed, for the most part, to rise above that first step, which immigrants can often do in North America. That alienation has played into the hands of extreme right-wingers like Jean-Marie Le Pen, who point to immigrants as the source, rather than the product, of France’s ills. Youths, in particular, who know they can’t expect to live a fully engaged, productive life in a fair society can be driven to despair. That doesn’t excuse criminal behavior--but Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has not exactly distinguished himself, either, by calling the rioters 'scum' in need of a good 'industrial cleaning.' France must certainly put down the rioting. But Sarkozy should concentrate on ways France could integrate ethnic minorities in a meaningful way in everyday life. It’s not helping that the two senior government officials in charge of the situation, Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, are also locked in a bruising battle against each other for the 2007 presidential elections. Villepin rightfully reminded his rival, the scrappy, grandstanding former mayor of posh Neuilly-sur-Seine, not to stigmatize broad segments of people. Harsh words are not the remedy to France’s problem."
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