Riots have convulsed France for the past five nights. The New York Times reports, for example, in a story published in the last two hours “France Arrests Hundreds More in Fifth Night of Riots.” President Macron has canceled an official trip to Germany in light of the unrest, though not before attending an Elton John concert in Paris.
The case on this occasion is the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old young man of North African descent identified as Nahel M. last Tuesday. Some 45,000 police officers have been deployed across the country over the past two nights. Although news reports are not helpful at this point, I understand that the rioters come largely from France’s large Muslim community.
Christopher Caldwell dedicated his 2009 book to the subject: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. The current riots appear to be a possibly aggravated repeat of the October 2005 riots that Caldwell covers on pages 111-114.
The 2005 riots have their own Wikipedia entry. Le Monde has a good summary here. Caldwell concludes the book’s section on the riots with this observation:
There was a desire, bordering on desperation, to explain away the riots as due to some misconduct by the majority society. Because if the riots couldn’t be explained by the misconduct of the majority society, then they could only be explained as part of the rioters’ agenda. And to raise the rioters’ agenda was to raise, once again, the issue of Islam.
We have our own problems, two or three times more. I think of the cadre of rioters who devastated Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. To raise the rioters’ agenda is to raise, once again, the issue of the radical left.
UPDATE via Twitter:
The worst riots in France in 20 years.
and that’s really saying something. pic.twitter.com/h32f6xNr1g
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 1, 2023