French riots in Amiens by 'unknown youths'
I understand the sensitivity about naming Muslims as the culprits in some serious riots that broke out in the northern city of Amiens in France last night. Blaming a group with little proof would only worsen the situation.
But who lives in the area where the riots occurred? These are the suburbs of France where immigrants - many of North African origin -- live outside the mainstream of French political and cultural life. Economically depressed with little opportunity to escape, the massive number of young people with no prospects and little hope hate the police and government and can start a riot for no reason.
A thumbnail of the suburbs from CSM:
The suburb residents are mostly Arab or African, often Muslim and poor. One-third live below the poverty line. Some are immigrants, but increasingly they are second- and third-generation immigrants, descended from guest workers who arrived in the 1960s and '70s.
Thirty-nine percent of the residents are under age 25, and youth unemployment tops 40 percent (compared with 20 percent and 22 percent, respectively, nationwide).
There is little doubt that Muslim youth were at least part of the riot last night in Amiens. But you won't find that conclusion in any media story about the riot, nor will the French authorities acknowledge the obvious; that they have an immigrant problem and Muslims are a big part of it.
Meanwhile, the rioters destroyed a several buildings and fired at police, wounding 16:
Reports suggest the unrest may have been triggered after police arrested a man for dangerous driving.
President Francois Hollande has vowed to restore order.
"Interior Minister Manuel Valls will go to Amiens immediately... to say there once again that the state will mobilise all its resources to combat this violence," he said.
"Our priority is security which means that the next budget will include additional resources for the gendarmerie and the police," Mr Hollande said.
A leisure centre, school and cars were burned overnight on Monday amid the unrest in the rundown district of Amiens, reports said.
The clashes are believed to have started at about 21:00 (19:00 GMT), ending at about 04:00 once police reinforcements arrived. Up to 150 police are said to have used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the violence.
Mayor Gilles Demailly said the clashes left behind a "scene of desolation".
This part of Amiens is known for its poverty
"There have been regular incidents here but it has been years since we've known a night as violent as this with so much damage done," Mr Demailly told Agence France-Presse.
Smaller-scale clashes had also erupted the previous night in response to the controversial arrest, reports said.
This district of Amiens had reportedly already been earmarked for extra security spending after it was identified as among the 15 most troubled areas in France by the government earlier this month.
What good would it do to blame the riot on disaffected Muslims? In service to the truth, the media might acknowledge the role of one specific immigrant group. But, as with most big city newspapers in America that refuse to identify recent "flash mob" violence against whites as being perpetrated by blacks, the media believes they are serving a higher purpose; that of keeping a lid on racial or ethnic tension.
It is an unsatisfying, if not understandable attitude. Lighting a match in a roomful of dynamite might illuminate the situation, but also have other, less desirable results.