Posted on November 21, 2005

French Violence ‘Back to Normal’

BBC News, Nov. 17

French police say levels of violence in France have returned to normal, following three weeks of unrest by urban youths across the country.

Police said 98 vehicles were torched on Wednesday night, marking a “return to a normal situation everywhere in France”.

A state of emergency remains in force after parliament voted on Wednesday to extend it for three months.

Almost 9,000 cars have been set ablaze and about 3,000 people have been arrested since the violence erupted.

Curfew lifted

The police service said the figure of 98 cars burnt was in line with the nightly average before the trouble began on 27 October.

At the height of the violence, more than 1,400 vehicles were destroyed in a single night.

Authorities in the Rhone region, which covers Lyon and nearby south-eastern towns, lifted a curfew on minors after just eight cars were destroyed overnight.

The state of emergency, which was first declared on 9 November, allows local authorities to impose curfews, conduct house-to-house searches and ban public gatherings. The violence spread from Paris across French towns and cities, mostly in areas with a high concentration of ethnic minorities.

Residents of housing estates, where unemployment can reach 40%, complain of racism and heavy-handed policing.

The riots began when two boys of North and West African origin were electrocuted in a Paris suburb after running from police, believing they were being chased.