French youths fight police and attack mayor's house

Two incidents in the past few days have raised fears of a renewed spiral of urban violence and racial tension in the greater Paris area.

In the first incident, 100youths fought police in the early hours of yesterday morning in the suburbs north-east of Paris after they stoned the home of a local mayor.

In Montfermeil, a racially mixed group of youths from a nearby housing estate stoned the home of Xavier Lemoine, apparently in protest against a decree banning groups of youths from the streets of his town. Police said later that there had been scenes of violence. Seven of the 250 policemen called to the scene were injured. Three people were arrested.

The riots took place close to a deprived housing estate called Les Bousquets, which was the origin of suburban riots last November that eventually spread across the country.

In the second incident, a gang of black militants invaded the old Jewish quarter in the centre of Paris last weekend, looking for confrontation with Jewish youths and hurling racial insults at passers-by. The 30 members of Tribu KA, a radical group which follows the teachings of black American Louis Farrakhan, insulted Jewish passers-by and unsuccessfully sought out members of two radical Jewish youth groups. There was no violence but many Jewish residents and shopkeepers in the Rue des Rosiers area said they had felt intimidated. The gang warned it would returnevery Sunday.

There were expressions of outrage from anti-racist groups and all political parties, and the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, called for a ban on an internet site run by Tribu KAon the ground that it was stirring up anti-Semitic hatred.

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