Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Police Clash With Youth in Paris Suburb

"PARIS May 30, 2006 (AP) Police in a troubled Parisian suburb clashed Tuesday with dozens of young people armed with baseball bats, an incident that revived fears of more riots like those that shook the nation last year.

French media reports said seven police were injured in the melee in the town of Montfermeil, where masked youths hurled projectiles and swung bats at police officers." Read More ...

All quiet on the western front? Not quite. The riots of last November were quelled through the systematic use of a State of Emergency - rather than actually resolving any of the real issues. This might just be an isolated incident, but it is also symptomatic of just how much repression there is in France.

A year ago the French voted "Non" to the European Constitution and in the last year there has been no constructive effort to address the concerns of the French population. There have been regressive efforts like the CPE/CNE employment contracts and the New Immigration Bill, but no real attempt to address the real issues that were raised by the electorate when they stated why they were voting "Non".

It kind of reminds me of when PW Botha declared a State of Emergency in SA back in the 80's - it's far easier to call out the boere and put the boot in than to face the real problems of the day. The lesson there was that the SA State had to eventually acknowledge that institutionalized racism was unsustainable and that no amount of police repression could suppress what people wanted - basic human rights. The same applies to Israel and their shameful treatment of the Palestinians.

There is racism in France today, and lots of it. It's not legislated, but in many ways it is institutionalized and insidious; there is not a single black representative in the French Parliament. The UMP and Sarkozy pander to the right wing sympathies that are widely held in a society that likes to present a liberal facade, all the while clinging to a notion of France that doesn't exist anymore.

Is it any wonder that historical dramas about Napoleon and Marie Antoinette are in vogue at the moment?

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