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Paris 'Quasi–Normal'

photo, avenue leclerc, saturday

Saturday night traffic, speeding out of town.

Countryside Hit

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Saturday, 12. November:– On the 16th consecutive night of urban violence the number of incidents in the Ile–de–France region diminished but increased elsewhere in France. The hottest scenes last night were in Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille.

While 416 vehicles were destroyed beyond the Ile–de–France region, 86 were set on fire in the area surrounding Paris. General Director of the National Police, Michel Gaudin, told reporters that the situation was 'quasi–normal' in the Paris region. The police arrested 206 overnight, bringing the total to 2440 since 27. October.

Given menacing rumors police placed an extra 3000 police and CRS officers on guard in Paris. These joined a force 11,620 of police, gendarmes and CRS units throughout France. Curfews were applied in communes in six departments, but none so far in the Paris area.

Tonight Nicolas Sarkozy was shown on TV–news inspecting forces under his command on the Champs–Elysées. Earlier he had been reported as saying that a combination of rain tonight and a football match between France and Germany at the Stade de France in Saint–Denis, would 'calm' the troublemakers.

Injunction Against Sarkozy Refused

Saturday:– Meeting today, the Conseil d'Etat rejected the injunction sought by anti–racist group SOS Racisme, to prevent the minister of the interior Nicholas Sarkozy from expelling foreigners convicted of violent acts during the current wave of urban unrest.photo, rue daguerre, friday On Wednesday the minister told deputies in the Assembly National that he was instructing préfets to deport foreigners.

SOS Racisme, despite the rejection, noted the argument of the judge, which pointed out that a ministerial declaration could not lead to administrative acts contrary to the law. Apparently the judge considered the fact that the minister issued no order for his directive to be carried out. If it had been, he would have been warned at least, about the legality.

Shoppers in the Rue Daguerre Saturday.

SOS Racisme also pointed out that the actual number of foreigners that could have been deported as a result of an arrest and conviction, was no more than 12 – merely one–tenth of the 120 foreigners mentioned to the Assembly National by the minister on Tuesday, 8. November.

For his part Sarkozy stated in a press release that he was 'delighted' with the decision by the Conseil d'Etat. "The instructions given to préfets to deport foreigners seriously troubling public order are perfectly legal and not any way an infraction of fundamental rights," he said, adding, "Consequently, in all the cases that the law permits, foreign troublemakers will be deported to their countries of origin. The procedures are in preparation."

Gray, Gray November Sunday

The weather here tomorrow, according to tonight's TV–weather news, looks like it will be damp and gloomy, with more or less thick cloud cover expected all day. Unlike today the temperature should be a bit warmer, with a high of 12 degrees. Then for Monday and Tuesday you may expect some sort of sunny skies, even if the thermometre doesn't budge a millimetre.

Police Pack Paris – Peace Demo Modest

Friday, 11. November:– Security was reinforced today in Paris to prevent any incidents during the traditional ceremony to mark the end of World War I at the tomb of the unknown soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe at the Etoile.

The ceremony passed without incident this morning. Jacques Chirac placed the wreath in the presence of World War II veterans and the minister of defense, Michèle Alliot–Marie. The six poilus still living who participated in WWI are all over 100 years old and a bit too fragile for even short ceremonies.

In total, 3000 extra police were mobilized for the long weekend. The préfet of police in Paris decided to forbid all public demonstrations on Saturday, from 10:00 until Sunday morning at 8:00, in reaction to calls for 'violent action' posted on the Web or distributed via SMS messages.

Today's demonstration in favor of urban peace, called by Banlieues Respects for 15:00 at the Peacephoto, cour de commerce st andre, thursday Wall on the Champ de Mars, drew 250–300 persons. Similar demonstrations are planned for Lyon and Toulouse tomorrow.

Overnight violence diminished again, with concentrations in 20 areas out of 160 communes affected. In Bordeaux police cars parked at the Palais de Justice were set on fire, while the number torched in the Paris suburbs rose slightly to 111, up from 82 on Wednesday night. Throughout France 463 vehicles were destroyed Thursday night. Police arrested 201 persons.

In the Quartier Latin on Thursday.

Also on Thursday night, minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on the France–2 TV program A Vous de Juger. He refused the idea of confusing the kids from poor suburbs with hoodlums, saying, "When I say they are hooligans or rabble, I persist and sign – and in no case in this sense do I mean all youth" – repeating controversial terms he used in Argenteuil.

Insurance companies have estimated that the cost of damage from the urban unrest is going to total 200 million euros. On TV–news tonight a spokesman said that owners of burned cars would be compensated, regardless of whether their policies had clauses covering fire.

Marseille Strike Resumes

Transport workers in Marseille voted to resume their strike of municipal buses and the Métro after a five–day pause. Part one of the strike lasted 32 days, causing many residents to become foot–weary, even with a belated system of replacement buses. The employees are protesting against a city plan to have a private company operate the Marseille tram lines when they are built.

Calmer, But Not Peace – Anti–Riot Demo Friday

Thursday, 10. November:– Although urban violence decreased again last night the authorities are being cautious as the holiday for Armistice Day approaches on Friday, followed by a weekend, when there might by further demonstrations.

Fewer cars were burned on Wednesday night and a police spokesman said there were 'practically no' battles between police and rioters. All the same a police station, two kindergartens, a school and a city hall were targeted by arsonists.

Another 200 were arrested, which has brought the total since disturbances began, to 2033 detained. According to reports, Michel Gaudin, General Director of the National Police, stated that a hundred of those arrested were foreigners. Of those arrested, 364 have been convicted. Of these, 73 were minors.

On the political front more voices are being raised against the expulsion order of the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. There are objections that coupling deportation of foreigners to a conviction amounts to a double penalty – a legal situation not supported by French law, and one recently opposed by the same minister of the interior.

In Paris service stations have been forbidden from selling gas in containers, in an effort to halt thephoto, entry line for willy ronis expo, wednesday confection of Molotov Cocktails. Police say that rumors are flying around the Internet and via SMS telephone messages, suggesting a confrontation with police in Paris.

Parisians line up for Willy Ronis exhibition on Wednesday.

A group comprising 160 associations has police permission to form a group at 15:00 on Friday, at the 'Wall of Peace' on the Champ de Mars. The Banlieues Respects collective says participants should have visible white handkerchiefs. The demonstration in favor of urban peace will march towards Denfert–Rochereau. Similar parades are scheduled for Toulouse and Lyon on Saturday.

In another incident Nicolas Sarkozy acted quickly to suspend eight police officers filmed by a France–2 TV–news team, showing some of them beating a young man. The film was shown on tonight's TV–news. The incident, which happened on Monday in La Courneuve is the subject of two investigations.

A spokesman for a police union said there was no excuse for the conduct, but pointed out that after 14 consecutive nights of urban turmoil many police officers are stressed to the limit and tired.

Riots Diminish – Curfews Restrained

Wednesday, 9. November:– Reports this morning claimed fewer incidents during the night in the Paris area and around France. It was the 13th consecutive night of disturbances, and the first in which an emergency curfew was put in force in selected areas.

Many fewer cars were burned in the Ile–de–France last night as well as fewer throughout the country. Affected communes were 196, and arrests fell to 280, 50 less than Monday night. An interior ministry spokesman thought the total arrested to number 1830 since the beginning of the disturbances on 27. October.

The curfew plan concerns 25 out of 96 departments in France, with 38 urban areas targeted. Movement of persons, and driving, could be restricted. A curfew can be set for the city of Paris by the préfet of police, but mayor Bertrand Delanoë thought such a measure would be 'disproportionate.'

One such town last night was Evreux in Normandy, where both minors and adults of the Madeleine quarter were subjected to a total curfew from 22:00 to 05:00. Evreux was the scene of extreme violence on Saturday night.

During today's question period in the National Assembly minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy announcedphoto, etat d'urgence, le monde, tuesday that he was demanding the deportation of convicted rioters, if they were foreigners, with or without valid residence permits. According to Sarkozy, 120 foreigners have been convicted during the current wave of riots. Right–wing deputies applauded the idea.

In other remarks the short minister lauded the record of a special group of police, the GIR, created to combat the underground economy in the suburbs. He said 1600 investigations have been carried out, resulting in 12,000 arrests, with 3205 jailed.

Opposition politicians from several parties expressed doubts about the wisdom of the curfew, and many questioned the public absence of the president, Jacques Chirac.

Dollar Picks Up

The euro's value compared to the dollar has been falling since summer but the slide has grown more apparent in the past week. For a brief period on Tuesday one euro was worth $1.17, down from its recent high of $1.25 in September. Due to huge trade imbalances, currency specialists believe the value of the euro will climb again before year's end.

Curfew To Be Imposed – France Cracks Down

Tuesday, 8. November:– After a 12th night of urban turmoil the Council of Ministers met today and decided to instruct préfets to apply curfews if they think they are necessary.

On Monday President Jacques Chirac judged that such a move was necessary in order to 'speed up the return to calm.' The prime minister, Dominque de Villepin, announced the decision to declare a state of emergency last night on TF1 TV–news, saying that the violence was 'inexcusable and unacceptable.'

Residents of France showed their concern with an audience score of an estimated 13 million viewers for the newscast.

The curfew law dates from 1955 and has only been used twice in the past 50 years. How it is to function was explained by the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. In zones defined by a secondphoto, rue de rennes, tuesday decree, préfets will have authority to impose measures necessary to maintain order.

Where defined, curfews could go into effect at midnight tonight, and can continue for 11 days, until the law must be re–voted.

Police will also be able to make searches for arms without specific warrants during the 11–day period. Violation of the curfew could result in a two–month term in jail.

The rue de Rennes on Tuesday.

Monday night's violence lessened slightly from the levels reached on the weekend. A youth in Toulouse had a hand blown off by a tear–gas grenade fired by police. In all, 226 communes all over France were touched by violence last night, while 10,200 police officers effected the arrests of 330 suspected rioters.

in Paris, other than the relatively minor incidents of a few days ago, the nights are as quiet as they usually are. The nightly scenes of arson and mayhem shown on TV–news are not being witnessed first–hand by the city's residents and visitors.

See this week'sAu Bistrocolumn for additional details.

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