Fiddling after Paris Burned; A Month after Widespread Riots, France's Efforts to Address the 'Root Causes' of the Unrest Are Looking More and More like Purely Cosmetic Changes

By Pape, Eric; Dickey, Christopher | Newsweek International, December 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Fiddling after Paris Burned; A Month after Widespread Riots, France's Efforts to Address the 'Root Causes' of the Unrest Are Looking More and More like Purely Cosmetic Changes


Pape, Eric, Dickey, Christopher, Newsweek International


Byline: Eric Pape and Christopher Dickey

Kids in football uniforms run laps around a lit field in the early December twilight. They are specks in a vast cityscape of massive gray housing projects on the far fringe of the Paris sprawl. "Don't cut corners!" their coach calls out, breath steaming in the frost and his voice harsh amid the neighborhood's silence. Parents peek out from the high-rise windows as the kids start their game. The largely immigrant ghetto of Montfermeil is anything but heaven, but it doesn't feel like hell, either.

Hell was last month, when riots convulsed this and so many other outer-city ghettos across France. Beginning in nearby Clichy-sous-Bois, the violence raged for three full weeks: 10,000 cars and more than 200 buildings were burned, including schools, day-care centers, gymnasiums and small businesses. Thousands of people were detained, more than 400 were jailed, hundreds of others were injured--among them 234 cops and firefighters. The fate of some of France's leading politicians seemed to be at stake, perhaps the future of France itself.

For now, at least, the fires have died out--but an acrid bitterness still hangs in the air. Ask those on the football pitch behind the high wire fences of Montfermeil. Year after year, coach Kaddor Slimane, a son of Algerian immigrants who grew up in neighboring projects, has seen his teams win their league's sportsmanship award. Yet what does their good behavior mean in the "outside" world, where they are seen through the lens of limitations and stereotypes? "The French are racist," he says. "They just don't want to admit it." Life in the projects isn't so bad when you are a child, says Amad, a 24-year-old community activist who declined to give his last name for fear of racist attacks. "But once you reach a certain age, you're fed up. There's nothing to do except play soccer or hang out," in voiceless exile from the "other" France.

The politicians whose inaction and confusion (and seeming indifference) contributed to the violence, on the other hand, have rediscovered their voices. Almost as if the riots never happened, many are once again speaking in familiar platitudes and posturing about law and order. "All those who participated in the riots will have to pay, today or tomorrow," France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy declared on Dec. 15 at an homage to injured police and firefighters. Then he waded into the crowd, alongside his political rival, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, for handshakes and photos.

For a brief moment, in the immediate aftermath of the riots, genuine change seemed possible. As if to make up for lost decades, French officials rushed to propose new initiatives designed to address "root causes" of the unrest. The government is stepping up plans to knock down the soulless housing blocks that make life in France's banlieues so oppressive and alienating, and to replace them with smaller-scale housing surrounded by greenery. It injected an additional 100 million euros into the 2006 budget for social-support organizations in troubled communities. And it promised, yet again, to focus laserlike on unemployment, which ranges from 20 to 40 percent in many ghetto communities--two to four times the national average.

That's just for starters. Another program will offer 70,000 young outer-city adults free job counseling, internships and employment opportunities by the end of February. The number of education grants to be awarded to ghetto kids will jump from 30,000 to 100,000 in 2006, while elite French schools, according to official assurances, will begin taking in more students of color. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fiddling after Paris Burned; A Month after Widespread Riots, France's Efforts to Address the 'Root Causes' of the Unrest Are Looking More and More like Purely Cosmetic Changes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.