Just Above Sunset
November 20, 2005 - All's Quiet, But...

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

Our Man in Paris is Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. His weekly columns appear here and often in a slightly different version the next day on his site from Paris, with photographs. Here, at mid-week, he reports on the widely reported rioting across the nation, as it winds down, and there's a good bit of detail here not on the wires stateside, including news of that pipe-smoking radical environmental activist.

All's Quiet, But…

PARIS - Wednesday, 16 November -

The Assembly National and the Senat voted to continue the 'state of emergency' today, extending its period for three months. The government's party, the UMP, largely supported the measure, with an assist from the more moderate UDF group.

In the Assembly there were 146 votes against the extension and in the Senat 125 voted against it. The Socialists, Communists, Verts and leftist radicals were more than handily outnumbered by right-wing deputies and senators.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy introduced the text for the government in the Senat - at a time when the suburbs have become a lot less turbulent. Although somewhat perplexed, the UDF supported the project.

During the discussion, all speakers praised the conduct of police and firemen during the riots, excepting the Communists.

The vote came after the 20th night of disturbances. Overnight damage has seriously decreased in volume with police reporting 163 vehicles burned and 50 arrests, and no 'major' confrontations against the 11,600 police and gendarmes mobilized.

Deportation proceedings have begun against ten foreigners who have been convicted of taking part in the riots. The leader of the bar in Seine-Saint-Denis has created a group of volunteer defense lawyers to provide legal aid to the foreigners.

Three highly placed members of the government raised the issue of polygamy in France. Gérard Larcher, deputy minister for employment, suggested that multiple marriages by immigrants is a contributing factor of racial discrimination. Extreme right-wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, in a press release, echoed the notion.

The anti-racist organizations, the Ligue des Droits de l'Homme and the MRAP, immediately reacted with disgust and anger at the 'hysterical politics.'

The UMP deputy-mayor of Drancy, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, said that it was 'absurd,' adding that problems of parental authority were more often related to mono-parents that to polygamist ones. "More often it is single mothers who find themselves overwhelmed," he said.

Counter-Spies See No Jihad

The French counter-espionage unit is the DST, which, as its title of Direction de la surveillance du territoire suggests, is watching over the territory - but it seldom tells the public what's going on even though we pay the salaries.

In an interview to be published Friday in the magazine 'Valeurs Actuelles' and reported today by AP in Paris, the DST's chief, Pierre de Bousquet, says that it hasn't seen any indication that religious integrists are involved with the riots.

He was quoted as saying that the troubles are not related to any religious influence. He said some of the foreign press was making a big mistake by connecting trouble in France with bombs in London or Madrid.

In contrast he characterized the terrorist menace in France as 'high' and that it was preoccupying. He estimated that there were only a few individuals in France who might be susceptible to participate in terrorism. However he estimated sympathizers to number several hundreds.


Four Months for Bové

Tuesday, 15 November -

The appeals court in Toulouse sentenced José Bové to a four months' prison term today for his part in the destruction of a genetically-modified corn field at Menville in the Haut-Garonne department in July of 2004. Seven others received suspended sentences of three months and two months. They were also ordered to pay a total of 97,300 euros in damages to the three companies operating the cornfield.

The court exonerated one defendant because he wasn't physically able to destroy any of the corn. In the original trial, the state declined to charge two hundred others who had taken part in ripping out the plants.

For the moment the judge has not ordered Mr. Bové to be placed in prison, expecting, because of the severe penalty, that he will appeal the sentence.

During the appeal process the state prosecutor did not consider the defendants to be 'delinquents,' and he did not request prison terms, suspended sentences or fines. Instead he asked for one-year suspensions of their 'civic rights' - rights to vote, to be candidates for office.

TV-news suggested that Mr. Bové, by side-stepping this suspension, will likely be a candidate in the presidential election in 2007.

One of the convicted, Toulouse municipal councilman, François Simon, said the sentences were a 'bludgeon stroke' designed to break the movement of the 'voluntary mowers,' as those who oppose the open fields of experimental trans-genetic crops call themselves.

The Green party denounced the sentences, calling on the government to stage a public debate about the wisdom of growing experimental plants in the open air. The Communist Party criticized the sentences and characterized them as 'politically motivated' and intended to criminalize 'syndical action.' The lawyer for the plaintiffs praised the 'courage' of the court.


Photo: The light at the end of...

Quiet Paris street, November 2005



Photo and Text Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis



Editor's Note:

From left-leaning Pacific News Service As Flames Die Down, Young People in France Exhale and Organize - Russell Morse, New America Media, November 16, 2005 –


Tahar Illikoud is a Spanish Algerian who has lived in the suburbs of Paris for 30 years. He, too, is a security guard and has spent the past two weeks away from his family, driving around the neighborhood on his own time, extinguishing fires and talking to the young people in the streets. "The police can't do this. We have to talk to each other, take care of each other."

He shares an insightful observation on Zinedine Zidane, France's most popular soccer star and one of the biggest names in the sport worldwide. "Zidane's parents, his mother, his father come from Algeria but he is treated as French. When he plays, he plays for France and when he wins, France wins. But us, we don't know what we are. I live for France, I work for France and everything I do is for France, not for my home country. The only difference is that I have an Arab face. And at the end we don't know if we are French or if we are strangers."

While the issues of identity and cultural acceptance have been forced to the front, a cohesive response has not. This outburst was a release of frustration, and now people are eager to return to their lives. They want jobs. What is significant is that people have recognized the extent of the frustration in each other. They saw themselves and their own exasperation and anger in the streets, whether they were out there or not.


The whole item is worth a read.



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....