La Haine Recommence

Writing about Commentary on French riots from Neighbourhood #1

Watching More 4 news last night we saw an interview with Naima Bouteldja

Smith was asking her whether British-style hate crime and race crime
legislation would have helped to prevent the build up of illfeeling
which has in part led to the recent rioting.

Naima Bouteldja’s first response was an emphatic no.

which point I’m ashamed to say that we stopped listening and started
discussing it thus missing most of the rest of the interview.

In short though we covered two points:

can you have a self proclaimed secular society that believes in
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité and then protect certain groups?

  1. It’s an acknowledgement that you aren’t any of those things
  2. How can you protect some groups and not others eithout destroying the egalité?

When we picked the interview back up she seemed to be saying
that the main sparking point was the way that the Government, and
Dominic de Villepin in particular, had dealt with the initial incident
and then the way that the CRS had managed the subsequent civil unrest.

Quote from Naima Bouteldja’s Guardian article:

days after the deaths in Clichy-sous-Bois, just as community leaders
were beginning to calm the situation, the security forces reignited the
fire by emptying teargas canisters inside a mosque. The official reason
for the police action: a badly parked car in front of it. The
government refuses to offer any apology to the Muslim community.

Now, I find the majority of French policemen quite scary – but the CRS are a different matter altogether. They’re more akin to the Russian “FSB” – and those guys are really scary.

Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité

Definition from Anthony’s Home Page
Anthony’s Home Page

The average person in France associates the abbreviation CRS with riot police, demonstrations, and other public scenes of disorder, mainly because the CRS
is the unit of the regular police that is normally detailed with this
type of crowd control. (They also perform duties such as rescue
operations and the like, but those activities don’t get much media
coverage.) They have a widespread but undeservedly sinister reputation,
probably thanks to guilt via association, since they are usually seen
publicly only in tense situations, such as public demonstrations,
riots, and the like. While the media give considerable attention to the
occasional instances of police brutality, in many cases the CRS
end up more beat up than the crowds they are attempting to
control—which is especially significant when you consider how well
protected the CRS usually are.

Closer to home Professor Danielle Joly has posted an Expert Opinion on the Mediablog.

…and actually – who are we to be so smug?

How is this any different from St. Pauls, Toxteth, Broadwater Farm and Brixton in the 1980s?

Or more recently Lozells?

4 Responses to “La Haine Recommence”
  1. I don’t know about the riots in the 1980s [1. I was like what, 5 years old? And 2, I was in Holland]
    but I don’t think the recent Lozells troubles can be related to the
    France unrest. Lozells was (is?) a local problem between two minority
    groups, where in France it’s all against the government/police. It’s
    hard fighting riots with reason. Don’t really know what I want to say
    with that, though.

  2. Casey Leaver says:

    to an extent it is about the economic disparity between two ethnic
    groups in the Lozells area and the grievances that have built up
    between the two communities

    …but is it not also about the
    environment in which they live and the social policy which affects
    them? Would these grievances have built up if these people (on both
    sides) felt better about their environment and their opportunities.

    agree that it doesn’t appear that the arrival of the police aggrevated
    the situation, and that the violence wasn’t against ‘the state’ – but I
    think my point about social deprivation stands.

    Clichy-sous-Bois started off as a local issue too. And the Brixton
    riots in April 1981 were localised until the rest started a few months

  3. Tom Sharp says:

    a slightly different note, have you seen La Haine? It rocks! I saw that
    in London when it first came out and is up there with my top films. The
    cinematography is mind blowing.

    The parallels between the film and today’s mayhem are scarily close!

  4. Casey Leaver says:

    I have indeed – jusqu’ici tout va bien…

    Haven’t seen it for quite a while but it’s one that sticks with you isn’t it?

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