Thomas Landen, Brussels Journal, November 29, 2007
Today, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy met the parents of Anne-Lorraine Schmitt. Last Sunday this 23-year old woman was murdered on a metro train in Paris’s northern suburbs by a serial rapist of Turkish origin who had been released from jail despite his criminal record. He stabbed her to death because she resisted him.
Yesterday Mr. Sarkozy met the parents of two immigrant teenagers who got themselves killed last Sunday on a stolen motorbike less than 15 kms from the place where Anne-Lorraine Schmitt was murdered that same evening. The death of the two teenagers led to riots in the immigrant neighbourhoods, while the murder of Miss Schmitt went mostly unnoticed in the mainstream media. Only a few French blogs—mainly Catholic and nationalist ones—wrote about the case.
Anne-Marie Schmitt was the eldest of five children from a deeply religious and patriotic French family. The fact that President Sarkozy decided to meet the young woman’s parents made one of the blogs wonder whether the Elysée Palace (the French equivalent of the White House) reads the blogs of “nationalist activists.” If so, it proves the importance for Mr. Sarkozy of gaining the support of the conservative voters who for many years supported the Front National because the establishment parties did not take their worries about immigration and about the decline of law and order seriously.
Meanwhile the blog of the leftist newspaper Libération reported (English translation here) that according to doctors almost all the wounded policemen brought to the hospitals during this week’s riots had been shot at with firearms. “We have never seen that before,” the doctor said. He added that the wounded police officers were brought to several hospitals, not to the same hospital, “perhaps in order to avoid commando operations of youths.” According to the doctor the number of the wounded officers “has been minimized.”
“This is a real guerrilla war,” police spokesman Patrice Ribeiro told RTL radio, warning that the police “will not be fired upon indefinitely without responding.” One police officer who asked not to be identified, told the French press agency AFP: “It felt like they were out to kill us. We knew there were weapons in the suburbs, but they never turned against us like that. We were attacked from all sides by youths armed with hunting rifles.” The French police authorities fear that the immigrant youths are procuring more weapons.
Yesterday President Sarkozy warned that “Opening fire at officials is completely unacceptable” and promised that “those who take it into their hands to shoot at officials will face court for attempted murder.” Today he added that the violence this week was the result of a “thugocracy” of criminals, not social deprivation. “I reject any form of other-worldly naivety that wants to see a victim of society in anyone who breaks the law, a social problem in any riot,” he said. “The response to the riots isn’t yet more money on the backs of the taxpayers. The response to the riots is to arrest the rioters.”
Will this be the end of France’s slackness?