Thursday, June 01, 2006

Paris is burning (again)

Has all that much changed since last year's riots? Apparently not:

Small gangs of youths pelted riot police with rocks and set cars and garbage bins ablaze late Tuesday in a second night of unrest in the Paris suburbs, raising fears of a return of the disturbances that inflamed 300 French towns and suburbs last fall.

The violence of the last two nights -- in which youths attacked police cars, government buildings and riot police -- was sparked in part by mounting resentment toward the mayor of the northeastern Paris suburb of Montfermeil, who in recent weeks imposed a law prohibiting 15- to 18-year-olds from gathering in groups of more than three and requiring anyone under 16 to be accompanied by an adult on city streets after 8 p.m.

Hardly the way, it would seem, to incorporate disenfranchised (figuratively, not literally) youth into French society. I don't endorse rioting, and surely these aren't the healthiest of communities in and of themselves, and the mayor may have had good reason to impose these restrictions and curfews, but what are the marginalized and largely hopeless to do?

One wonders what lessons, if any, the French have learned.

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