Muslims Create Intifada in France
A year on from the devastating riots that plunged France into a state of emergency, the Muslim immigrant populations in parts of the country remain as volatile as ever. A surge of violent attacks against police in France’s housing estates has engendered warnings of an undeclared intifada, or uprising, with fears of worse to come.
France’s Interior Ministry reported that, through September, nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded in violent clashes in 2006. In October alone, Muslims sparked three major clashes in Paris suburbs, including an incident where three officers were set upon by a mob of around 50 young people with stones, steel bars and a gun, resulting in one of the officers being hospitalized.
The level and intensity of attacks, taking place in low-income housing estates with large populations of Muslim youth, have led Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the Action Police trade union, to demand that officers be provided with armored cars in certain areas. “This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their ‘comrades’ free when they are arrested” (Telegraph, Oct. 5, 2006).
The number of attacks has increased by a third in the last two years and is still rising. In September, Muslims unleashed 480 attacks on police and other officials, a 30 percent increase over August.
The mood in many parts of France is such that a repeat of something on the scale of the three-week rampage of a year ago—which spread to hundreds of French towns and cost $500 million—could be sparked by a single incident such as the death of a rioter or police officer.
However, “one of the biggest sources of dynamite,” in the words of the New Zealand Herald, is the upcoming presidential election campaign. Interior minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy advocates harsh measures to deal with such violence. “With the vote only six months away, Sarkozy has declared the ‘cleanup’ of the suburbs as his rallying cry, and is stepping up high-profile snatch operations and patrols by crs riot police and gendarmes” (Oct. 19, 2006).
The ongoing unrest and violence in France illustrates the failure of immigrant Muslim populations in Europe to integrate. The result will be further alienation of Muslims and increased support for those political parties that promise solutions. The increasing popularity of far-right parties across Europe demonstrates that Europeans are starting to get fed up with the inaction of the mainstream parties. When Europe does eventually go after the Muslim problem in force, the current violence in French housing estates will pale into insignificance.