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Wheels On Fire

photo, printemps, haussmann

Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann, on Saturday.

Curfew Ordered

Paris:– Monday, 7. November 2005:– Speaking on TF1 TV–news tonight, prime minister Dominique de Villepin said that préfets will be able to impose curfews anywhere in France on Wednesday, after the existing law of 1955 concerning a 'state of emergency' is published in the Journal Officiel.

This move is based on a decision by Jacques Chirac to call a meeting of the Council of Ministers tomorrow morning, to put the law into effect. Acting under the authority of the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, the préfets can apply the law.

The prime minister also said that it is too soon to call on the army for help and added that an additional 1500 police officers would join the 8000 already on duty in the 'sensitive' suburbs. He welcomed the efforts of parents and residents of the affected suburbs to calm down the situation, especially concerning the younger kids.

Sunday–Monday, More Blues

Hopes were dashed for a quiet Sunday night after Saturday night's 'fever' swept disturbances into a widerphoto, public housing circle of mayhem around France. While Paris' troubled suburbs were somewhat calmer last night, youthful rage gained ground in other cities and towns everywhere – adding to the numbers of burned out cars and buses, schools, churches and some government buildings.

Example of public housing, here in Paris.

Arrests numbered close to 400, bringing the total to near 1200. In Grigny, just south of Orly, shots were fired and 10 police were hit with bird pellets, with two being hospitalized but out of danger. National police announced that 36 officers were hurt in Sunday's actions.

Meanwhile, the leaders of France's largest Muslim organization issued a 'fatwa,' or religious decree. This withholds grace from all who commit blind violence against property or persons.

Nicolas Sarkozy remains the object of criticism, with Socialist Dominique Strauss–Kahn acidly commenting, 'one cannot be a full–time minister of the interior at the same time as being a full–time president of the UMP, a full–time president of the Hauts–de–Seine department and sort of full–time against the president of the République. His job is to restore order, nothing else."

Elsewhere, deputy mayor Eric Raoult of Raincy in Seine–Saint–Denis, beat the national curfew by having one voted for at a council meeting today. This establishes a curfew for minors from 01:00 to dawn, and its object is to restore calm for residents, the 'silent majority.'

The following reports were written late last week, as the events were followed day–by–day. During the day on Sunday, after French president Jacques Chirac appealed for calm, government observers were hoping that there would be a decline after a night of extraordinary 'Saturday night fever.' If anything, the riots of Sunday evening were the most violent of all.

Riots Continue – Politicians Wrangle While Suburbs Burn

Friday, 4. November:– The illusion that France is in control of itself dissolved during the week as suburban youths took to the streets night after night to conduct running cat-and-mouse battles with armed riot police, to trash and burn, in a 11?–night orgy of mayhem.

The government, meeting in crises daily, seemed incapable of mastering the situation, perhapsphoto, chistmas tree, galeries lafayette because it cannot – or refuses to – comprehend how it has gone wrong. In France the government is supposed to manage the country, but it seems that the best it can do is react.

This year's tree in Galeries Lafayette.

It all started when interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy paid a public relations visit to Argenteuil on Tuesday, 25. October. In a regular show–the–force junket he was greeted by boos and catcalls, and when he called the reception committee 'rabble' and said he was going to 'cut out the gangrene,' he had to start dodging thrown rocks and beer cans.

Two nights later three teenagers returning home in Clichy–sous–Bois thought they were fleeing from a police identity check. To escape they climbed a barrier topped with barbed wire to seek refuge in an electro–transformer station and two were electrocuted.

News of the deaths set off the anger of local youths. They torched cars and garbage containers and assaulted riot police with rocks and other missiles.

Some observers think events were launched by the offensive action and aggressive words of the combative interior minister. Other observers, with over–heated nightmare visions of common delinquency run amok coupled with international terrorism, placed all blame on the teenagers.

In the following days, ones that followed consecutive nights of blazing riots and battles with riot police, the interior minister 'persisted,' announcing on the TFI Sunday evening news that the government would exercise 'zero tolerance.' As cooler heads began to prevail in Clichy–sous–Bois, the nightly battles shifted to many other suburbs outside Paris.

Last Wednesday, some members of his own party had enough of Sarkozy. In a heated session with the prime minister present, one UMP deputy was reported as saying, 'he gives an impression of being what his detractors say he is.' Another said, 'he's happy to throw oil on the fire - a ministe who acts but achieves no results.'

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