Chirac vows to restore order

LIBERTÉ? French Muslims banned from wearing headscarves in school. ÉGALITÉ? France's non-whites twice as likely to be unemployed. FRATERNITÉ? French government admits integration policies have failed. RÉALITÉ: Riots erupt for eleventh night.

President Jacques Chirac said after a meeting of ministers and advisers: "The Republic is quite determined, by definition, to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear. The law must have the last word."

Last night 10 policemen were injured, two of them seriously, when youths opened fire with a shotgun in the Essonne region south of Paris. In Saint-Etienne, southern France, youths seized a bus and ordered passengers to get off before torching the vehicle, injuring the driver and a passenger, while in eastern Strasbourg, rioters threw Molotov cocktails into a primary school, and in Toulouse, a car was pushed towards the entrance of a metro tunnel. Police said that at least 300 cars wereer torched and 37 people had been arrested across the country.

Saturday night's incidents in the centre of Paris, in which 32 cars were burnt and 30 youths arrested, marked a new and disturbing escalation after nearly two weeks of intensifying riots.

Almost 1,300 cars were burnt across France on Saturday night ­ a new record ­ as copycat riots by gangs of disaffected and criminal youths broke out in towns from the Belgian border to the Mediterranean coast, and from Alsace to Normandy.

The worst -hit provincial town was Evreux, in upper Normandy, where 100 youths fought with police. A shopping mall, a post office, two schools and 50 cars were destroyed by fire.

In the Paris suburbs, two nursery schools were burnt to the ground. A McDonald's restaurant and a gymnasium disappeared in flames after being rammed by blazing cars.

In Evry, south of Paris, police discovered a Molotov cocktail factory in a disused police station. Six teenagers were arrested. Sixty litres of petrol and 150 bottles, a third of them filled and ready to be used, were seized.

Small gangs of rioters entered the city of Paris for the first time on Saturday night and hurled petrol bombs at parked cars. Two of the attacks took place on the northern outskirts of the capital, and one gang set fire to half a dozen cars close to the offices of the Libération newspaper, near the Place de la République in the centre of the city. Despite the worst destruction since the riots began, a police spokesman called for a sense of proportion. He said: "It's 211 districts out of 36,000, so France is not burning."

The Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said the government would step up security. A total of 2,300 extra officers had already been drafted in. " We cannot accept any 'no-go' areas," M. de Villepin said, adding that he would announce plans for the country's underprivileged suburbs on television today.

Police said they had been expecting small raids but thought serious outbreaks of violence in the capital were unlikely. The multiracial suburban gangs which are mostly responsible for the 12 days of rioting prefer to operate within their own territory where they are not so vulnerable to arrest, the police said.

For a beleaguered and muddled government, there were signs of hope at the weekend. In two Paris suburbs, young arsonists were seized by older residents and handed to the police: the first signs of a revolt against the revolt by people who are the primary victims of the riots.

People of all races and religions marched silently through three suburban towns on Saturday, calling for a return to calm and common sense. The parents of two teenage boys whose deaths sparked the original unrest in Clichy-sous-Bois, north-east of Paris, put out a moving and dignified statement. "We call for tempers to cool down and for an end to all violence and for a return to a sense of civic duty on all sides. France does not deserve this," said the families of Bouna Traore and Zyed Benna, who died after they climbed into an electricity sub-station to escape a police identity check.

It remains to be seen how far such appeals will influence the youths. Although the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has spoken darkly of " organisation" of the riots by drugs barons or Islamist radicals, police chiefs and social workers dismiss such claims. Police intelligence experts say that almost all of the violence is coming from known gangs, with help from other local youths, some as young as 10 or 12. There can be no co-ordination between the gangs in different cités (housing estates), they say, because they detest each other as much as they detest the police.

The Union of French Islamic Organisations issued a fatwa against rioting after officials suggested that Muslim militants could be partly to blame.

The violence is a statement of anger and rejection against mainstream French society but also reflects a determination by each local gang in the Paris suburbs ­ and now in disadvantaged quartiers across the nation ­ to have its night of bonfires and its name on the television news.

Weeks ago, M. Sarkozy talked of "cleaning out" the violent youth gangs with a Karcher, or high-powered hose. After the deaths in Clichy, he described the gangs as racaille, or scum. The youths setting fire to their own brothers' and sisters' schools, or their neighbours' cars, are part of a multiracial under-class of 15- to 22-year-olds whose only currencies are drugs and violence. They are determined to show M. Sarkozy that they will not be "cleaned out" so easily.

There were new calls over the weekend, from left-wing politicians and community leaders in the suburbs, for M. Sarkozy to resign. In an article in Le Monde, M. Sarkozy said he had no intention of doing so. If his approach failed, he said, the law of drugs barons and Islamists would prevail. An opinion poll in Le Parisien newspaper suggested M. Sarkozy remained popular.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game