Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Riots in Paris

It looks like the zero tolerance policy adopted by the French government has backfired and Paris has been convulsed with riots.

[French Interior Minister] Sarkozy maintained his hardline stance, saying policing would be stepped up to ensure every resident of France's poor immigrant estates - where unemployment can be five times the national average - had "the security they have a right to". He said 17 companies of CRS riot police would be assigned permanently to difficult neighbourhoods, along with seven mobile police squads. Plainclothes agents will be sent on to some estates to "identify gang leaders, traffickers and big shots," he added, promising a "national plan" to deal with delinquency by the end of the year.

Opposition politicians, human rights groups and even some members of his own centre-right UMP party have accused Mr Sarkozy of being more interested in high-profile repression than long-term prevention. They are also upset at his use of words such as rabble, yobs and louts, which they say is likely to stoke tensions further. "This isn't how we resolve these problems," a former Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius, said on French radio. "We need to act at the same time on prevention, education, housing, jobs ... and not play the cowboy."

But Mr Sarkozy, citing statistics that show 30 police patrols are stoned and as many cars burned every night on France's low-income housing estates, is unrepentant. "There are some gangs and traffickers who are living off the underground economy, off drug trafficking, who seem to think these neighbourhoods are beyond the authorities' reach, " he said on television on Sunday. So far, France's voters seem to back him: he is by far the most popular politician and is seen as a leading presidential candidate in 2007. |Guardian|
It shall be interesting to see what the long term results of this crackdown are because the short term results aren't encouraging.

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