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French Police Face “A Permanent Intifada”

From those lovers of diversity at the DNC's Associated Press:

French police face 'permanent intifada'

By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press Writer

Sun Oct 22

EPINAY-SUR-SEINE, France – On a routine call, three unwitting police officers fell into a trap. A car darted out to block their path, and dozens of hooded youths surged out of the darkness to attack them with stones, bats and tear gas before fleeing. One officer was hospitalized, and no arrests made.

The recent ambush was emblematic of what some officers say has become a near-perpetual and increasingly violent conflict between police and gangs in tough, largely immigrant French neighborhoods that were the scene of a three-week paroxysm of rioting last year.

One small police union claims officers are facing a "permanent intifada." Police injuries have risen in the year since the wave of violence.

National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted — and some now receive police escorts in such areas.

On Sunday, a band of about 30 youths, some wearing masks, forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight Sunday, set it on fire, then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, police said. No one was injured. Two people were arrested, one of them a 13-year-old, according to LCI television…

Ethnic integration and violence against police are both becoming issues in the campaign for the French presidency. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the leading contender on the right, said this month that those who do not love France do not have to stay, echoing a longtime slogan of the extreme-right National Front: "France, love it or leave it." …

Michel Thooris, head of the small Action Police union, claims that the new violence is taking on an Islamic fundamentalist tinge.

"Many youths, many arsonists, many vandals behind the violence do it to cries of 'Allah Akbar' (God is Great) when our police cars are stoned," he said in an interview.

Larger, more mainstream police unions sharply disagree that the suburban unrest has any religious basis. However, they do say that some youth gangs no longer seem content to throw stones or torch cars and instead appear determined to hurt police officers — or worse.

"First, it was a rock here or there. Then it was rocks by the dozen. Now, they're leading operations of an almost military sort to trap us," said Loic Lecouplier, a police union official in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris. "These are acts of war." …

Distrust and tension thrive. Rumors have flown around some housing projects that police are hoping to use the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends this week, to round up known troublemakers, on the basis that fasting all day will have made the youths weaker and easier to catch.

Police say that suggestion is ludicrous. However, they are on guard ahead of the first anniversary this week of last year's riots. That violence began after two youths who thought police were chasing them hid in a power substation and were electrocuted to death.

Police unions suspect that the recent attacks may be an attempt to spark new riots.

"We are getting the impression these youths want a 'remake' of what happened last year," said Fred Lagache, national secretary of the Alliance police union. "The youths are trying to cause a police error to justify chaos."

are more details on the aforementioned bus attack, also from those lovers of the gorgeous mosaic at the Associated Press:

Youths light bus, stone firefighters in suburban Paris

October 22, 2006

PARIS, France (AP) — A band of youths, some wearing masks, forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight, set the bus afire and then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, a police official said.

Police cordoned off the neighborhood in Grigny, in the Essonne region, after the bus attack Sunday, which came five days before the one-year anniversary of the start of three weeks of fiery riots by poor suburban youths.

District police chief Jean-Francois Papineau called Sunday's bus attack "deliberate." He said a vehicle was set afire at about 2 p.m. and used as a roadblock that forced the bus to stop. Two youths then entered the back of the bus to clear out passengers before dousing it with gasoline and setting it ablaze.

The blaze, which left the bus a tangled carcass of metal, spread to four parked cars, Papineau told LCI television.

When firefighters arrived, the youths, some masked, began stoning them, he said. No one was injured. Two people were arrested, one of them a 13-year-old, according to LCI.

The local prefecture said that nearly 30 youths were involved in the incident. LCI reported that about 50 youths, some carrying iron bars, were involved.

Meanwhile, France's minister for social cohesion, Jean-Louis Borloo, called on citizens to act responsibly because "tensions are raw just as we're in the process of resolving the difficulties."

The daylight bus-burning evoked memories of the riots. It followed nearly a half-dozen incidents in recent weeks in which suburban youths have attacked police officers, in some cases in planned ambushes. Such clashes have raised tensions ahead of Friday's anniversary of the start of the riots…

On Saturday, five people were placed under investigation for attempted murder in connection to an October 13 ambush in the town of Epinay-sur-Seine, north of Paris, in which police were lured to a housing project then attacked by about 30 youths. One officer hit by a rock required 30 stitches to the face…

(Thanks to Gil and Rakkasan respectively for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 23rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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