Riots put French government under pressure
Updated: 2005-11-03 09:35
Violence broke out in Paris suburbs for the seventh night running overnight
on Thursday, compounding pressure on Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's
government to act quickly to restore order.
went on the rampage in nine areas in poor suburbs ringing the French capital to
the north and the east, setting alight about 40 cars, two buses, and dustbins,
as well as causing damage to at least one school and a shopping center.
French riot police
officers run past burning cars in Paris suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, early
Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005. For a seventh straight night, groups of youths set
fire to cars and shops in at least nine towns northeast of the capital.
Hundreds of police were deployed to control the disturbances, with some units
diverted from a soccer match.
One trade union representing policemen described the unrest as a "civil war"
and called on Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to impose a curfew in areas
which have been affected by the violence to ensure the violence did not spiral
out of control.
Unrest was first sparked in Clichy-sous-Bois last week after two teenagers
were electrocuted while apparently fleeing police during a local disturbance,
and it has since spread to other areas in the Parisian suburbs.
Dramatic pictures of burning vehicles have grabbed headlines and forced the
unrest to the top of the government's agenda. In response, Villepin canceled a
trip to Canada on Wednesday and promised he would mobilize the government to
tackle the unrest.
Media attention on the disturbances has been all the more intense as they
have highlighted the bitter rivalry between Villepin and Sarkozy ahead of 2007
presidential elections, particularly after Sarkozy called the protesting youths
Equal Opportunities Minister Azouz Begag has openly criticized Sarkozy while
Villepin took a calculated swipe on Wednesday at the strong language used by the
interior minister when he stressed the need to avoid stigmatizing such areas.