Paris gets tough on explosive 'banlieues'

MARY DEJEVSKY

Paris

Car-burning, looting and stone-throwing erupted again yesterday on one of the tough estates in the soulless concrete wasteland south of Paris. Thirteen people were detained and one policeman was injured.

The disturbances, nearGrigny, were the latest in a rash of incidents on housing estates (known simply as banlieues) across France. Last weekend alone there were violent confrontations near Strasbourg and Mulhouse in Alsace, near Toulouse in the south-west, near Grenoble in the south-east and near Dijon in Burgundy.

Estates to the north and east of Paris were also affected, and a policeman was in intensive care after being shot in the head in Mantes-la-Jolie, a town to the west of Paris with a history of trouble.

With disturbances being reported nightly, "what to do about the banlieues" has become an important concern. But the authorities have been sending distinctly mixed signals.

Last week President Jacques Chirac talked about the need to "extend a helping hand", provide more jobs and services and do nothing that might be construed as a "provocation".

His remarks contrasted with his call in the election campaign for the elimination of "no-go areas" and were hailed as evidence that he had learned that the seething banlieues could not be subdued by force.

On Monday, however, the Interior Ministry's director of public security, Daniel Duglery, announced new, tougher policing for the estates.

Special units were being trained and equipped with fast cars to deal with car theft and joy-riding and with bullet-proof vests and rubber bullets.

In another sign that the banlieues were in for a hard time, the judiciary announced an investigation into an "Afghan terrorist connection", citing evidence that "dozens" of young people from certain estates had received terrorist training in Afghanistan.

The authorities insist the outbreaks derive from the same factors as earlier violence: the preponderance of young people on the estates, high unemployment and racial tension caused by high concentrations of North African immigrants.

Many recent incidents, however, have specific causes, which testify to policing which is seen as too heavy-handed.

The disturbances at Grigny are said to have begun when youths tried to attack a flat occupied by someone they believed was responsible for the death of a youth from the Maghreb. The presumed culprit was in custody, but they did not know that. There have been several instances of groups of youths applying their own rough justice where they think the police have failed.

The incident at Mantes-la-Jolie appears to have been the result of police intervening to stop a hashish deal. Other incidents have begun as gang- fights or joy-riding which the police tried to halt.

There is a further explanation which is rarely mentioned by officials: the mild autumn, which has allowed street life to continue longer than usual, and the heightened police activity dictated by the anti-terrorist alert codenamed "Vigipirate".

From the first terrorist bomb on 25 July, when the chief suspects were identified as being of "North African appearance", it was almost exclusively young men of that description who were stopped and searched. After the identification of Khaled Kelkal as the prime suspect in September, the estates themselves, at least those with big North African populations, were subject to early-morning raids and night-time patrols.

With "Vigipirate" now in effect for two months, and Kelkal dead, shot by police, resentment has built up. North African men complain they are stopped whenever they go out. Many were born in France and carry French papers. In this atmosphere, the slightest spark can cause a blaze.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone