Clashes with police in French suburb expose tensions unresolved since 2005 riots

Rampaging youths threw Molotov cocktails and set fire to dozens of cars in troubled neighborhoods outside Paris during a second night of street violence.

November 27, 2007 07:03
3 minute read.


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Rampaging youths threw Molotov cocktails and set fire to dozens of cars in troubled neighborhoods outside Paris during a second night of street violence after two local teens were killed in a crash with a police patrol car. President Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting China, appealed for calm on Monday, while police braced for more problems. With several dozen officers injured during two nights of rioting, the violence was a reminder of the tensions that drove weeks of rioting in 2005 in poor neighborhoods with large minority populations. Anger focused on police, with residents claiming that officers left the scene of Sunday's crash without helping the two teens whose motorbike collided with their car. Officials cast doubt on the claim but the internal police oversight agency was investigating nevertheless. Investigators were still trying to piece together exactly what happened in the Sunday afternoon crash in Villiers-le-Bel, a town of public housing blocks home to a mix of Arab, black and white residents in the French capital's northern suburbs. Police officials said the motorbike ignored traffic rules and crashed into the police vehicle, and that the bike was unregistered and thus not authorized for use on French roads. Neither of the teens - aged 15 and 16 - was wearing a helmet, and the prosecutor's office said the bike was going at maximum speed. The internal police oversight agency opened an inquiry into whether the deaths were manslaughter and whether the officers failed to help the teens, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. An alcohol test showed that neither of the officers had been drinking, and initial inquiries suggested they did not appear to have caused the crash, police said. The prosecutor, Marie-Therese de Givry, told LCI television that the officers called rescue services to the scene. Villiers-le-Bel was on edge Monday for a second night, though the families of the two teenagers called for calm. A crowd of youths set police barricades on fire and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at officers, who retaliated with tear gas and rubber bullets. In Villiers-le-Bel and surrounding areas, youths set fire to 36 vehicles, the area's prefecture said. Youths were seen firing buckshot at police and reporters. A police union official said 38 officers were wounded, including three seriously - one of whom had a shoulder wound after a shot from a hunting rifle pierced his bullet-proof vest. One reporter also was injured. Two youths were taken into custody, the prefecture said. Among the buildings targeted by the youths was a library that was set afire. "The situation is tense; there are a lot of police on the ground to prevent more flare-ups," said Gaelle James of the Synergie police officers' union. In Sunday's violence, eight people were arrested and 20 police officers were injured - including the town's police chief, who was beaten in the face when he tried to negotiate with the rioters, police said. One firefighter also was injured. Also Sunday, witnesses said, police fired rubber pellets at youths. Two police stations were targeted, one with Molotov cocktails. A McDonald's restaurant was burned, as were about 15 cars and several garbage cans. Sarkozy said: "I want everyone to calm down and let the justice system determine who was responsible." Residents drew parallels with the 2005 riots. That unrest was prompted by the deaths of two teens electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police in a suburb northeast of Paris. A recent study by the state auditor's office indicated that money poured into poor French suburbs in recent decades had done little to solve problems vividly exposed by the 2005 riots, including discrimination, unemployment and alienation from mainstream society. The head of the opposition Socialist Party, Francois Hollande, called the latest violence the result of "a social and political crisis" and lamented the "climate of suspicion, of hate, that can exist in many neighborhoods." "Promises were made. We want to see the results," Hollande said on France-Inter radio of government pledges to address suburban tensions. "How long have we been talking about a 'plan for the suburbs?"'

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

May 24, 2019
End of May: British prime minister announces resignation - watch