A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Friday, November 04, 2005

Paris Goes Down in Flames

AP: Unrest in Paris Suburbs Enters Second Week---

LE BLANC MESNIL, France - Bands of youths roaming Parisian suburbs burned more than 500 vehicles and hurled stones at police as rioting — the nation's worst in a decade — entered it second week Friday and spread for the first time to other parts of France.

The violence prompted the U.S. and Russian governments to advise citizens visiting Paris to steer clear of its impoverished outlying neighborhoods, where authorities were struggling to regain control.

A savage assault this week on a bus passenger highlighted the dangers.

Attackers doused the woman, in her 50s and on crutches, with an inflammable liquid and set her afire as she tried to get off a bus in the suburb of Sevran, judicial officials said. The bus had been forced to stop because of burning objects in its path. She was rescued by the driver and hospitalized with severe burns.

Justice Minister Pascal Clement deplored the incident Friday, saying it caused him "great emotion."

With the unrest growing beyond the French capital, gangs burned five cars in the eastern city of Dijon and 11 in the southern city of Marseille.

A national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon, said there appeared to be no coordination among gangs in different areas. But he said youths in individual neighborhoods were communicating by cell phone text messages or e-mails — arranging meetings and warning each other about police operations.

The violence started Oct. 27 after the accidental electrocution of two teenagers who believed police were chasing them in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, dominated by low-income housing projects.

Since then riots have swelled into a broader challenge against the French state and its security forces. The violence has exposed deep discontent in neighborhoods where African and Muslim immigrants and their French-born children are trapped by poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, crime, poor education and housing.

Across the Paris region, the burned remains of at least 520 cars littered streets, an increase from previous nights. Five police officers were lightly injured by youths throwing stones or bottles, the Interior Ministry said.

At a depot in Trappes, to the southwest, 27 buses were incinerated, officials said.