Background of the riots
Media always mention the death of two youths being the reason for the breakout of the riots. According to different media reports (official news sites, independent blogs and indymedia) Ziad Benna (17) and Banou Traor? (15) were trying to escape a police identity check. These checks take place regularly in some French banlieus (suburbs). Especially some Paris banlieus are known to be trouble hotspots. Their unemployment rate is sometimes greater than 30% and they are often populated by black and islamic minorities. Nicolas Sarkozy, French minister of the interior, stands for a zero tolerance strategy against crime. He called the rioters scum which needs to be removed with high-pressure cleaners. This reminds me of Ronald Schill, Hamburg's former Innensenator and judge merciless.
Reasons for the rioters
According to an interview of a rioter in German Tagesschau the main reason for the rioters are (no specific order):
- The feeling of being left alone
- Unemployment and the reforms of the job market sensed to be useless
- Racism and the feeling of not being accepted as French citizens although having a French passport
- Ghettos where too many people are stuffed together
- Police harassment together with racist search patterns
- Nicolas Sarkozy's utterances and provocations
The way I see it
There is no excuse for violence. The reasons mentioned above are just explanations but no justification. In my opinion France has failed to integrate their foreigners. Ghettos and social isolation are no response to these problems. Neither is zero tolerance. The only solution I see is to provide apprenticeships for all youths which costs a lot of money and might even be impossible but would get people off the street and give them a perspective of what to do with their lifes. In the long run people should have the feeling that they are needed and accepted. This starts in school and even in kindergarten where finally support for non native speakers is needed. This concerns all countries with immigration. Including my country.
Probably the most important "right here, right now" response is to change the police strategy to a mediator system and away from zero tolerance.
Images from 20 Minutes