Wednesday, November 9

Is Paris Burning?

Not really, according to Patrick Belton
I'd arrived at Aulnay-sous-Bois yesterday expecting a seething cauldron on just the point of boiling over. What I found was quite different, and surprised me. Aulnay has seen the worst violence of any of the banlieues to date, but its housing projects had their windows open, laundry hung out to dry, music and laughter spilling out from within; the streets were filled with children playing...
Although he wrote earlier,
There is, in speaking with its people at its cafes and on its streetcorners, a sense of malaise these days in Paris, which I think you could probe further by juxtaposing the despair of the banlieu rioters with the stories of the increasing numbers of graduates of Paris's leading business schools who go to Britain upon graduation, or those of postgraduate degree holders working as postmen. All have in their way given up on the French dream, a comfortable lifestyle sheltered by an extensive and humane welfare state.
And anyway, as d-squareddigest says,
These young men have got a political grievance, and they're expressing it by setting fire to things and smashing them up. What could be more stereotypically, characteristically French than that? Presumably they're setting fire to cars because they don't have any sheep and the nearest McDonalds is miles away. "French society is threatened by anarchy and lawlessness". I mean really. Everyone would do well to remember that this is France we're talking about, not Sweden or perhaps Canada.

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