Comments by guests on John Batchelor show tonight about riots in France:
John Terrett (British correspondent)
The situation had been building for years and it finally boiled over.
Reza Bayegan (Iranian expat living in Paris for six years)
Most rioters are Sunnis 2nd generation North African or Sub-Saharan Africans. So most are French citizens. They are not really in bad [economic] shape when compared to other countries; they are getting free health care and free education.
Rioters are alienated from their parents and the Muslim religious authority -- alieniated from authority in general.
Reza told Batchelor that he has not found that he's been discriminated against by the French in all his years of living there and has not experienced any kind of retaliation from French non-Muslims since rioting began.
There are huge sections cities/towns in France where the African-Arab population is segregated from the French popluation -- where the people don't speak French and where the police never go. The police hadn't stepped foot in the town for years where the two boys were electrocuted. They showed up only on strong report of crime taking place.
[French authorities] are invoking a 1955 Algerian law to declare military authority over the rioters, which is the worst thing they can do.
Pundita always fogs out while listening to Fukuyama. He something to the effect that Muslim youth in Europe are suffering from alienation. Batchelor's website carries Fukiyama's written pronouncement on the riots.
Martin Arnold (Financial Times reporter) living in Paris.
French ruling class threatened by rioters. Ruling class is white, male, educated in France's best universities; many are public servants. There is not a single ethnic person serving in France's legislative body.
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From various MSM TV reports tonight
Police closing down internet sites that are networking hubs for rioters; e.g., telling where to meet to stage riots.
(Vanity Fair editor living in Paris interviewed on CBS nightly news):
The Muslims in France speak of America with admiration, saying that in America the Muslims are free to attend whatever schools they want, in America Muslim women are free to wear headscarves.
French police saying that many of the youths seem to be part of criminal gangs.
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Regarding the last comment above: I can't help but recalling that the Thai police/military kept saying the same thing for years about increasing violence in Muslim south. By the time they acknowledged that it was not just criminal gangs -- that there was a jihadi terrorist element -- it was too late to deal with the situation without setting off a minor bloodbath.
I hate to disagree with my favorite British news analyst but I remain suspicious about the timing of the boiling over of angst. As John Terrett observes, the situation has been going on for years -- decades. Yet by amazing coincidence the situation boiled over at just the time the EU3 leaders collectively showed real starch in their spine with regard to Syria and Iran.
Nicolas Sarkozy's awful slurs, which many have blamed for feeding the anger of the rioters, are nothing new. He's been playing to France's hard right. What's new is Jacques Chirac's willingness to go along with the original wording of UN Resolution 1636 on Syria, which was even tougher than the slightly watered-down version hammered out last weekend.
What's new is the tough language about Iran used by Britain's foreign office head, Jack Straw.
What's new is Tony Blair's public accusation that Iran is behind al Qaeda terrorist activity in Iraq.
In short, during the past month there has been a sea change in the attitudes of the European Union leaders, which has alarmed Syria's President Assad, who carries water for Iran's regime. The change has also alarmed al Qaeda's leaders and Iran's dictators.
The situation is ripe for a big al Qaeda terrorist attack in West Europe, which still has many undetected Qaeda sleeper cells. So when the riots broke out in France I was relieved to see they were spontaneous and seemingly not instigated by Qaeda. There is plenty for France's poorest to riot about. And Sarkozy's infamous contempt for France's African-Arab immigrant population clearly poured oil on the flames.
Then a passage in an article Dan Riehl sent along this weekend gave me a start:
The rioters were using an urban battle tactic that was refined in 2003-2004, in Thailand, by a Qaeda-linked Muslim terror group. The tactic is hit-and-run attacks on motor scooters against police and military troops. The Thai military and police were sitting ducks until they adjusted their tactics.
I told myself that the adoption of the same tactic by the rioters was simply a logical development; after all, many of the poor can't afford cars in Europe and scooters are a widespread mode of transport. But I was concerned enough to mention the Thai tactic in an email to Dan.
Then, within hours I was reading news wires that mentioned the growing coordination of the attacks across Europe. Again, this is not necessarily connected to Qaeda and can be seen as a logical development.
However, it is an unavoidable fact that all this spontaneous, logical development of the "riot" tactics has come on the heels of the UN situation I mentioned in my post today. My concern is that spontaneous grief and rage among the poorest Muslim immigrants has provided Qaeda -- and Iran's regime -- the perfect opportunity to warn Chirac and other West European leaders to back away from their tough stand on Assad's regime.
In any case, I think it's fair to assume that by now, Qaeda is providing technical assistance, tactical advice and money to the aggrieved rioters.
None of this contradicts the points that Terrett, Loftus and several commentators have brought out since the riots began. West Europeans need to confront the simple fact that ghettos are not a good thing. Reportedly Chirac has privately acknowledged the ghettoization of the vast majority of France's 5 million Muslim immigrants. (See Nov 7 Guardian.)