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
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
music

News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

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

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

Primary General Cover Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album