Posted on October 27, 2020

France at the Crossroads

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, January 2006

On Thursday, October 27, 2005, a group of teenagers — all immigrants or children of immigrants — was playing soccer in a field in the Paris suburb of Livry-Gargan. It was the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim period of daytime fasting. The game broke up around 5:30 p.m. so the boys could get home to the neighboring town of Clichy-sous-Bois before dark, and eat their first meal since daybreak.

Some took a shortcut by jumping over a fence through a building site rather than walk around it. There had been many thefts from construction sites, and someone called the police. Officers arrived promptly and took six boys in for questioning. Three others ran, clambering over a nine-foot wall into an Electricité de France sub-station. The only place to hide was a shed — with huge warning signs on it — built over a high-voltage transformer. At 6:12 p.m. power went out in the neighborhood. Two of the boys, a 17-year-old of Tunisian origin and a 15-year-old Mauritanian, had shorted out the transformer and electrocuted themselves. The third, a 17-year-old of Turkish origin, survived with severe burns. He initially told police the three just decided to run — no one was chasing them — but has since changed his story and claims officers were in pursuit.

Police recovered the bodies at 7:00 p.m., and the rumor spread that police deliberately chased the boys into the sub-station. Young men poured into the streets of Clichy-sous-Bois, burning automobiles, battling police, and looting shops. Thus began nearly three weeks of rioting and arson that spread to some 300 towns across France, causing more damage than any event since the Second World War.

For the first few days, the rioting was mainly in the Seine-Saint-Denis area northeast of Paris. “Youths of immigrant origin,” as the French press described them, kept quiet during the day and came out at night to burn and pillage. They met police and firefighters with stones, bricks, and even gunfire. On the night of October 30-31, when police used tear gas to disperse a mob at Clichy-sous-Bois, some of the fumes drifted into a mosque where worshippers were celebrating an important festival. Naturally, this was taken as another deliberate provocation, and may have encouraged rioting more than the deaths of the two boys. Soon there were copycat riots in non-white neighborhoods in every part of France, and even in Belgium and Germany.

Night after night, it seemed France was at war. At their worst, rioters were burning nearly 1,500 cars a night and scores of buildings. At one point, train service from Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport was halted because the line ran through an area that was no longer safe. In Lyon, France’s second largest city, firebombs shut down the subway, and for several days all public transport stopped at 7:00 p.m. for safety reasons. There were some incursions into white areas — for example, on November 6 thugs burned a few cars in downtown Paris — but non-whites mainly sacked their own neighborhoods. Thousands of riot police seemed unable to end the violence.

Journalists noted that for the first time anyone could remember, France was unsafe for reporters. Rioters beat up white television crews from France 2, TF1, and LCI. Jacques Cardoze, a well-known reporter for France 2, ran for his life, along with his camera and sound men, when rioters threatened them. From behind police lines they watched as their pursuers looted and burned their vehicle. Some reporters simply refused to cover events they considered too dangerous. Others went out with the police, like embedded troops in Iraq. The riots were a windfall for black and Arab free-lancers who could cross the lines unnoticed. When word got out that TV crews could not get close to the action, arsonists filmed their own handiwork and offered the clips for sale.

Michel Pajon, the Socialist mayor of the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand, described a state of complete lawlessness in his town, with thugs dragging people out of their cars, stoning them, and setting the vehicles on fire. Others burned down schools and daycare centers. Mr. Pajon made an impassioned plea for help from the army, adding, “We need to know whether this country still has a state.”

He was not alone. On October 29, just two days into the riots, a leftist police union that represents one fifth of all French officers, made an official request for armed intervention. Michel Thooris, the union’s secretary general, wrote to Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy: “There is civil war in Clichy-sous-Bois. . . . Snipers are firing on the police. . . . We can no longer handle this by ourselves. We do not have the equipment or the training for urban warfare. Only the Army, which is trained, equipped, and prepared for a mission of this kind, can intervene safely and stabilize the situation.” He went on to call for curfews “in the face of the civil war now being fought in many French ghettos.”

The army can be called in to suppress rebellion only under Article 16 of the French constitution, which sets up what is, in effect, a temporary presidential dictatorship. Instead, after nearly two weeks of dithering, President Jacques Chirac invoked a 1955 law dating back to France’s war in Algeria. He declared a state of emergency that allowed local officials to establish curfews, and the police slowly took back control from the rioters.

Amazingly, rioters killed only one person. Sixty-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec was the vice president of the tenants council in his rent-subsidized building in the town of Stains. On the evening of November 4, he and the president of the council put out a fire someone had started in front of the building. They explained to a group of “youths” that fires and violence hurt everyone, and then made the rounds of the area. On their return, a hooded man appeared, and beat them both to the ground. Le Chenadec died of his injuries two days later. As of this writing there were no suspects.

Le Chenadec was one of the few whites living in the project; his daughter is married to an Arab. One of his white neighbors later told reporters she had had enough: “The other day I had my nose broken right in my building by blacks who had come looking for white people to beat up. White people never speak up for themselves. And when one of our children gets beat up there are no marches and rallies. [National Front leader] Le Pen has got it right.”

As the violence raged, most French politicians — notably President Jacques Chirac — either kept quiet or dithered helplessly. As one young member of parliament observed, “This is the kind of situation that measures the stature of statesmen. We have none.” Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy called the rioters racaille — “scum” or “rabble” — but provoked only outrage. When President Chirac finally broke silence after 10 days of rioting and spoke to the nation on television, his mix of pieties and bromides was widely derided. “Like sprinkling holy water on a raging fire,” observed the regional paper le Républicain Lorrain.

Even the European Union seemed to think France was helpless. On Nov. 13, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said the EU could offer as much as a billion Euros for “social inclusion.” “For some time,” he added, “we have been analyzing the problem of integration on a Europe-wide basis and France is suffering in particular, but it is a European problem.”

On Nov. 16, Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for another three months, but by then curfews in the worst-hit areas were having an effect. On the 17th, the BBC noted that only about 100 vehicles were burned the night before, which meant non-white suburbanites were back to no more than their usual level of pyromania. At the height of the riots, more than 1,400 vehicles — cars, trucks, city buses, anything thugs could get their hands on — were going up in a night. The other targets were the installations welfare-state France had been at such pains to build in the ghettos: schools, kindergartens, youth clubs, gymnasiums, and social centers.

By mid-November insurance companies were estimating the damages: 20 million Euros for 8,000 burned vehicles and another 250 million Euros (1 Euro = $1.17) for approximately 100 public buildings destroyed. Over 1,000 people were expected to go on the dole because their workplaces had burned down, and bus service had to be cut back in cities that had lost part of the fleet. Police arrested some 3,000 rioters, only a small fraction of participants. Hundreds of police and firemen were hurt by rioters, some with serious gunshot wounds.

The Aftermath

What will come of the riots? Will the realization that multi-racialism does not work break out of the “racist” enclave of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front? Or will the French blunder down the American path of coddling rioters with affirmative action? The violence could be the dose of reality that saves France from the slow suicide of dispossession, or it could usher in the quick suicide of preferences and the insidious anti-white ideology that accompanies them. Or the French could do nothing. Even after an event of this magnitude, if the “youth” stay quiet for a while, France could slip back into paralysis. Whatever happens, the riots of November 2005 are a crucial event in the history of one of the great nations of the West.

Immediately after the violence, the media were thick with diagnoses and commentary. Liberals — and France has plenty of them — blamed the violence squarely on whites, and want to launch a cultural revolution to root out “racism.” Others point to the huge sums France has already spent on the poor, and insist there can be no excuse for arson.

Virtually no one drew explicitly racial conclusions, and the media behaved much as they would have in the United States. Le Monde, the country’s most prestigious daily, added a new section to the paper during the riots. As if the violence were a matter of geography, it was called “The Crisis in the Suburbs,” not the crisis of immigration, multiculturalism, or race.

During the entire first week, when every politician and commentator was jabbering about the riots, the French would have had the impression that only Jean-Marie Le Pen and the National Front were silent They issued a blizzard of press releases, but the media refused to give them a chance to say “I told you so.” Only after Nov. 7 did Mr. Le Pen and other NF leaders get any coverage.

Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the breaking news service LCI, which is owned by the big private broadcaster TF1, was at least honest. On Nov. 10, he told an audience of newsmen in Amsterdam that for purely political reasons he had decided not to run much riot footage: “Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want right-wing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television.” TF1 itself shut down its interactive Internet site during the riots, explaining that “given the number of comments we have received, it has become impossible to publish them and still maintain our standards of rigorous objectivity and responsiveness.” What is most likely is that readers were drawing conclusions TF1 did not care to post.

In this climate, it is not surprising that when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin addressed a special session of the National Assembly on Nov. 8 he blamed France rather than the rioters. He apologized for the tear gas that had drifted into the Clichy mosque, and called the violence “a warning and an appeal.” He said immigrants faced job and housing discrimination, and that fighting it “must become a priority for our national community.” Discrimination, he said, is a “daily and repeated infringement of our national ideals.” As in the United States, race enters the discussion only as a means for blaming whites.

Academics proved themselves just as idiotic as their American counterparts. Here is Eric Marlière, a prison sociologist, interviewed by the major newsweekly, Nouvel Observateur: “The youths have made their residential space their own, and although they may circulate in this space, they sometimes find themselves held in this space. Other public spaces are more or less closed to them. Which is to say that they are the symbolic owners of this space but also its prisoners. This space is not just for socializing but for all kinds of activities one of which, now attracting the media, is vandalism.”

Emmanuel Todd, a historian and expert on immigration noted:

I tend towards a rather optimistic view of what has happened. . . . I see nothing in these events that radically separates the children of immigrants from the rest of French society. I see precisely the opposite . . . None of this would have happened if these children of immigrants had not absorbed the fundamental values of French society, for example the coupling of liberty-equality . . . The ethnically mixed youths of Seine-Saint-Denis are firmly in the tradition of social uprisings that mark the history of France . . .

The hard left condemned anyone who suggested rioters and not French society were at fault. Such talk was “scandalous,” said Cécilie Duflot, spokesman for the Greens. “It is nauseating and irresponsible to make them the cause of the situation,” said the League of Human Rights. “Irritating if not intolerable,” said Manuel Valls, Socialist deputy mayor of Evry. The MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples) warned against “ethnicizing a revolt that reveals the failures of the French model of integration, which has refused to take into consideration exclusion, poverty, and unemployment.”

Aside from government ministers, perhaps no one was more visible in the media than Yazid Sabeg, one of just a handful of North African business executives. Son of an Algerian worker who came to France in 1952, he worked as a government bureaucrat before setting up a finance company. He is now head of CS Communication and Systems, which has 4,000 employees, and dispensed wisdom almost nonstop throughout the rioting.

The French business world is “viscerally racist,” he explained, so there must be across-the-board “positive discrimination.” He said preferences are “the best way to measure individual talent and merit fairly, without regard to color.”

Like American blacks, for him, “equal treatment” means special treatment: “I think that the way for employers to demonstrate that they practice equal treatment is for them clearly to announce their diversity goals, measure their progress towards diversity, and publish the results in their annual reports.” Mr. Sabeg also urged France to adopt national holidays that honor religions other than Christianity.

The Question of Preferences

Mr. Sabeg is at one pole of what promises to be the next great social debate in France: whether to adopt American-style preferences. Traditionally, France has refused even to count racial minorities, much less grant preferences. It takes the view that the French are one people, and that even noticing minorities encourages separatism. It is against the law for employers to keep track of the racial mix of their employees.

Up to now, like the majority of politicians, President Jacques Chirac has been against preferences. At a ceremony last June to inaugurate the suspiciously-named High Authority Against Discrimination and for Equality, he warned against a threat to French identity: the “conception in which some Frenchmen should define themselves according to their origins in order to pursue their rights.”

Since the riots, he has been singing a different tune: In his Nov. 14 address to the nation he said that “companies and labor unions must mobilize on the essential question of diversity.” Nothing could be accomplished, he said, “without combating this poison for society, which is discrimination.” Like every booster, Mr. Chirac pretends to believe diversity can be achieved without “resorting to the logic of quotas.”

For now, Mr. Chirac is in the minority. Not even his employment minister wants preferences. Gérard Larcher explained that ethnic distinctions would be a retreat from republican ideals, and would evoke wartime Vichy’s race-based laws. He explained that France is still ashamed that under the occupation, government lists made it easy for Nazis to round up Jews. As a practical matter, he said it was not an employer’s job to fix social problems: “Companies are not the Salvation Army.”

Not even the Socialists back preferences. Asked by a journalist at the height of the riots whether France should offer preferences based on race, even Manuel Valls repeated his party’s position: “No, only according to social or regional criteria. . . . There should be no ethnic, racial or religious criteria.”

Surprisingly, the man who appears to be playing a key role in pushing for preferences is the man with an otherwise hard-line reputation, Interior Ministor Nicholas Sarkozy.

Incitement to Racial Hatred

One immense difficulty France will have in coming to grips with the November riots is that whenever someone comes close to telling the truth about them he is likely to be sued for incitement to racial hatred. Anyone can bring such a suit, and the case of Alain Finkielkraut — France’s most prominent philosopher — is a chilling example of what can now happen not only in France but in many European countries.

Aside from nationalists who have been predicting an explosion, Mr. Finkielkraut has come closest to a realistic understanding of what happened. In a Nov. 15 interview in the newspaper Le Figaro, he pointed out that young thugs are burning cars and buildings because they hate France. “How’s this for a charming rap couplet?” he asked: “‘France is a bitch/Don’t forget to f**k her to exhaustion just like a whore/Have at her, man!/Me, I piss on Napoleon and General de Gaulle.’ Rather than being outraged by the horrors of burned schools, people pontificate on the hopelessness of the arsonists. Rather than pay attention to what they are saying — ‘F**k your mother! F**k the police! F**k the state!’ — we transform their calls to hatred into appeals for aid and their destruction of school buildings into demands for education.”

“They don’t want more schools, more daycare centers, more gymnasiums, more buses,” he added. “They’re burning these things. They are rising up against every institution, every delay, every obstacle to the things they want: money, cars, women. They are children of the remote control; they want everything right away.”

Two days later, he gave an even more hard-hitting interview to the Israeli paper, Ha’aretz:

It is clear that this is a revolt with an ethno-religious character. Everyone actually understands that. If you talk about the ethnic origins of the rioters that is considered racist, but at the same time, the unanimous reaction to the riots is to denounce discrimination against non-white minorities.

He heaped scorn on people who try to “understand” the violence: “I have been horrified by these acts, which kept repeating themselves, and horrified even more by the understanding with which they were received in France. These people are treated like revolutionaries.”

Many intellectuals claimed the riots were because of insufficient “openness to the other,” but Mr. Finkielkraut said the problem was too much openness: “No one’s holding them [the rioters] here. And this is precisely where the lie begins. Because if there were neglect and poverty, they would go somewhere else. But they know very well that anywhere else, and especially in the countries they came from, their situation would be worse, as far as rights and opportunities go.”

He also noted the double standard: “When an Arab torches a school, he is a revolutionary. When a white guy does it, it’s fascism.”

“Sure, there is discrimination and there are certainly French racists, French who don’t like Arabs and blacks. Well, they will like them even less when they realize how much they are hated by these people. . . . The generous idea of a war against racism has gradually transformed itself into a monstrous ideology of lies. In the 21st century, antiracism will be what communism was in the 20th.”

This was perhaps his most trenchant line: “The question isn’t what is the best model of integration, but just what sort of integration can be achieved with people who hate you.”

Mr. Finkielkraut even joked in the interview about how you can go to jail in France for talking about race. “Let’s take, for example, the incidents at the soccer match between France and Algeria that was held a few years ago. [In 2001, North Africans in the stands jeered the French team and booed the French national anthem. The game was stopped when “youths” burst onto the field waving Algerian flags.] The match took place in Paris, at the Stade de France. People say the French national team is admired by all because it is black-blanc-beur [“black-white-Arab” — a play on words that refers to the bleu-blanc-rouge (blue, white and red) of the French tricolor flag, and suggests the team is a symbol of multiculturalism]. Actually, the national team today is black-black-black, which arouses ridicule throughout Europe. If you point this out in France, they’ll put you in jail . . .”

Mr. Finkielkraut should not have been surprised, therefore, when on Nov. 24 MRAP announced it would file a civil suit charging him with “incitement of hatred.” There was a good chance MRAP could win damages; former film-star Brigitte Bardot has paid large fines for milder remarks. Mr. Finkielkraut immediately went on television to grovel:

He claimed he had been a “victim of an enormous misunderstanding,” and that the Ha’aretz interview amounted to “a compilation in which I do not recognize myself.” “I apologize,” he added, “to those who were wounded by a person that was not I.” Asked what he would say to backs and Arabs, he replied “I say to them ‘I detest as much as they do the person who emerges from this puzzle (of quotations), and I would not even shake his hand.’ I would tell them ‘I don’t think the way he does.’”

Mouloud Aounit, secretary general of MRAP, was born in Algeria, and is thus of the same North African origins as the rioters. He decided to withdraw his suit, even though — perhaps with some justification — he “doubted the sincerity of Mr. Finkielkraut’s apology.” He called the interview an example of “astoundingly violent racism,” and made a formal appeal to the French television authorities to keep Mr. Finkielkraut off the air.

The rioters’ more respectable co-ethnics can therefore intimidate anyone who strays beyond the official explanation that “racism” caused the riots. The French have passed laws that allow immigrants to muzzle them.

Another prominent French scholar, historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, also went to the foreign press to say things about the riots she could not have said in France. As she explained to the Moscow weekly, Moskovskie Novosti, “It’s true that the Russian television follows Putin step by step. But French television is so politically correct it is a nightmare. We have laws Stalin could have thought up. . . . People cannot express an opinion about ethnic groups, the Second World War, and plenty of other things. You’ll be quickly convicted of a crime.”

As for the rioters: “These people come directly from their African villages. . . . [E]veryone is surprised to find that the African children are in the streets and not in school and that their parents can’t buy an apartment. The reason is clear: Many of these Africans, I tell you, are polygamous. In one apartment there are three or four women and 25 children. The place is so cramped it’s no longer an apartment but a God-knows-what. That’s why the children are running around in the street.”

She also noted: “For years the government dared not call these people hooligans. The word was forbidden. When Nicolas Sarkozy called them ‘thugs’ and ‘scum’ these young people, these darlings, demanded an apology. In France we have an abominable mania for apologizing.”

So far, Mrs. Carrère d’Encausse has not been sued, but anyone tempted to speak his mind about the riots will have to wonder whether it is worth the risk of being sued.

This queer notion that polygamy was an important cause of the riots has had something of a vogue. Bernard Accoyer, the parliamentary leader of the governing UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire or Union for a Popular Movement) Party said it is “certainly one of the causes.” Even Employment Minister Gérard Larcher complained about it, saying polygamy leads to anti-social behavior that makes people unemployable. (Although polygamy is illegal in France, immigrants could get visas for multiple wives until 1993. Many wives have continued to enter illegally, and there are an estimated 10,000-20,000 polygamous families in France. A family with three or four wives and a score of children collects huge welfare payments.)


Needless to say, polygamy is only one irritating habit of a group that is unassimilable for a host of reasons. There are now an estimated eight to nine million people of North and West African origin in France — the number has doubled since 1975 — and five million of them are probably Muslim. Of the Muslims, the largest number are Algerians — probably 35 percent — followed by Moroccans and Tunisians. They are concentrated in the poor suburbs of Paris, Lille, Lyon, and Marseille, but are found everywhere. If current demographic trends continue, in 25 years or less, non-whites will be a majority of all French under 20 in urban areas. At 60 percent, non-whites are already a majority in French prisons.

Today’s arsonists are, in many cases, third-generation immigrants — citizens by birth — whose grandparents came to France during the post-war boom. Many are children of Algerians who had fought for the French and who came after the Algerian War ended in 1962. They moved into high-rise, rent-subsidized apartments in the suburbs, which have become largely non-white. It is common to call them “ethnic ghettos,” but this means only that immigrants who had the will and ability to integrate have done so, and that most of the French got out while they could.

France spends 30 percent of its budget on social services, and the billions it has poured into immigrant suburbs means an illiterate African can live on the dole and not work a day in his life. The amount of aid ebbs and flows with politics, but France has made enormous efforts to provide jobs and education. There are “tax-free zones” near housing projects that exempt companies from certain social charges. There are Priority Education Zones to funnel extra services to children who do badly in school. There are government-sponsored employment bureaus in the projects, but hardly anyone uses them. At one time there were even “Look Studios,” where young Africans got free lessons in hairstyles, fashion, deportment and speech, all in the hope of making them more attractive to employers. They had no observable effect and were dropped.

There has been much talk of unemployment rates of 40 percent in the projects, versus 10 percent nationally, but many of the November arsonists were boys of 13 and 14. They are certainly not looking for jobs.

Like so many Third-World arrivals in the West, Africans in France become more hostile with every generation. Their elders were grateful to live in a country with subsidized housing and good schools, where even menial laborers could live vastly better than in their own countries. Today’s rioters care nothing about this.

“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, how modern and advanced!’” recalls Sonia Imloul, now 30, who moved into a high-rise as a child with her Algerian immigrant parents. “I was seven when I saw a shower for the first time.” She says the generations born in France take everything for granted, spit on the jobs their parents were grateful to get, and despise France. “The first words children learn are swear words,” she says. Crime is everywhere. “The law here is that of drugs,” she explains.

Many older North Africans cannot understand their children. As one explained to the French weekly Marianne:

They are full of hate, but hate for what? For the fact that they are lucky enough to live in France? All the youngsters back home would rather be in their places. The Straits of Gibraltar will soon be full of the corpses of people who drown trying to get here. Where are they better off: in Clichy or Ceuta [a Moroccan city across from Spain, filled with Africans trying to get into Europe]?

Work? There’s plenty of work for anyone willing to bust his butt . . .

Discrimination? Yes, you have to fight it but not the way they are doing it. Who is going to trust us after these riots? . . . It’s not whites who are going to suffer for this; we are.

What has grown up in the non-white suburbs — sometimes to the bafflement of an older generation — is an almost perfect copy of the black American ghetto. The louts who threw bombs dress like ghetto blacks, walk like them, use the same gestures, and listen to a French version of the same, vile rubbish known as rap “music” — and at the same ear-splitting volume. They have the same hatred for the larger society, find the same lure in crime and violence, and demonstrate their manhood with the same coarse contempt for women. The television blares 24 hours a day in their homes, and no one ever reads. They are even sneaker-crazy: Some carry around erasers so they can wipe off scuff marks. Like blacks in America, the women do much better than the men. They appear to be able to find all the work they want, whereas the young toughs refuse to work for “chump change.”

The Department of Seine-Saint-Denis, just northeast of Paris, contains the largest concentrations of non-whites. It is among its seething population of 1,400,000 that the riots began and spread. In France as a whole, 80 percent of students get the baccalauréat or secondary school certificate; in the projects, it is only 20 percent. One in five are functionally illiterate. There are scores of school-age children, brought to France through “family reunification,” who do not speak a word of French.

Crime is at record levels in the Department: in 2004, murders were up by 18 percent over the year before. The latest fashionable crime is hostage-taking or imprisonment — the 155 cases in 2004 were a 32 percent jump from 2003. Men are taken to force payment of drug and gang debts; women are taken as sex slaves.

Criminals have a division of labor. “Because the North Africans control the drug trade,” explains a police officer, “the blacks have concentrated on other lines of business: robbery and carjacking.” The prosecutor for the town of Bobigny, François Molins, explains “there is probably not a single housing project that does not have its own parallel economy.” He says crime brings so much money and status that boys are irresistibly drawn to it. Every year the criminals are younger.

Daniel Merchet is a lawyer in Seine-Saint-Denis, who has worked for years with non-white criminals. “In the projects, most of the time violence is just a degraded form of language,” he says. “Some of these youths have learned nothing in school, and express themselves only through violence — with each other, too. They have absorbed nothing of Judeo-Christian culture and have no sense of right and wrong. Their racial value is ‘honor.’ Their parents do not understand the discipline children receive in school; they think teachers are ‘disrespecting’ them.”

“Basically,” he continues, “these people have no job skills, no job, and no income. In their society, to be is to have. They must have their slick clothes and cool sneakers, so they deal drugs.” Mr. Merchet estimates that 45 percent of drug dealing takes place on school grounds.

These are the “youths” of whom President Chirac said in his television address must be proud to be “sons and daughters of the Republic whatever their ethnic origins.” Only Internet postings fully expresses the bitterness Frenchmen keep bottled up:

“They have learned their lesson well: They cry out for jobs — in between setting fire to cars and stoning firemen — all the while hoping no one will do them the bad turn of actually finding them one. Who could possibly believe the charming young Arab or African with his face hidden in a hood, squatting in a doorway with a joint in his mouth is really looking for work? Is he really going to give up his criminal hustles, which bring in several hundred Euros a day, for a minimum-wage job?”

Part of the problem is that France, like other European countries, has not yet adapted its criminal justice system to non-whites. Its laws are written on the assumption that children of 13 and 14 are not hardened criminals and must be counseled. France is still at the stage of America in the 1960s, when it was anathema to “blame the victim,” and when “sensitive” responses to rising crime rates made the problem worse. Americans living in France who report crimes to the police are dumbfounded to be told that even if the culprits are caught there will be no punishment, so there is no point in chasing them.

The mayor of Drancy, near the Seine-Saint-Denis towns that burned most brightly, complains: “In our town the dominant sentiment of is one of impunity. The youths who go before the court in Bobigny call the judges ‘Santa Claus’.”

The French penal code actually has provisions for jail time and heavy fines for parents of minor children who commit crimes if parents have intentionally neglected their duties. Amid reports that mothers and fathers were egging on the bomb-throwers, Jacques Chirac called for enforcement. So far, a handful of sentences have been handed down: half-day sessions on “parenting.” “They should not be stigmatized,” explained the judge at Senlis in Oise Province. “This is to remind them firmly of their responsibilities.”

The deputy mayor of Draveil in Essone Province announced he was going to cut back on some of the more lavish subsides for families whose children have been convicted of rioting. Georges Tron said he would stop paying phone bills, electric bills, and water bills, and cut off subsidies for children’s vacations (yes, they get that, too), only to be met with howls of indignation from anti-racist groups.

There is one aspect of the French problem that does not have an American parallel: Islam. Militant Islam is spreading rapidly, and Muslim injunctions about the sexes add a sometimes gruesome ingredient not found in American ghettos.

A recent report by the inspector general for education, Jean-Pierre Obin, described the extent to which many heavily-immigrant schools have fallen under the control of Islamists. Girls are subject to Islamic dress codes — no skirts, dresses, or makeup — and are forbidden to attend gym classes. In some schools, certain European philosophers considered unacceptable to Islam are banned, as are art classes that teach representational drawing (because only Allah “creates”). Students walk out of lessons about the pre-Islamic religions of the Middle East or about the history of Christianity.

Girls are caught between the Western norms of French society and the Islamic view that woman are property. At least 50,000 French-born non-white women have been forced into marriages with men from the old country. There is no shortage of Algerian or Tunisian men who will jump at the chance to live legally in France by marrying a citizen. Only recently have the women begun to talk, and a 2004 book called Forced Bride, written by a Moroccan woman known only as Leila, has become a hit.

Modesty, and virginity until marriage are obligatory in some households, and France has had several honor killings. More commonly, Muslim girls who stray or who are suspected of straying become fair game for everyone. There is even a word — tournante — for the gang-rapes that may follow. The word means to take one’s turn, and the ritual is traditionally held in the basement storage areas of project apartment buildings. If a “youth” manages to seduce a girl, he is expected to share the now-damaged goods with his friends. In one sensational case in October 2002, a “fallen” girl named Sohane Benziane was tortured and burned alive by schoolmates after her tournante. The collision of Islamic prudery with the unrestrained promiscuity of the ghetto has had terrible consequences for many young women. (One of the best accounts of the horrors that have been brewing for years in the French suburbs is Theodore Dalrymple’s “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris,” published in the Autumn 2002 issue of City Journal.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the riots — and for that reason one that almost no one in France will utter out loud — is that this is where non-white immigration inevitably leads. Britain was rewarded with bombs in London, and race riots in Oldham, Burnley, and Bradford. Immigrant tensions in Holland came to a head with the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh. Belgium has violent gangs of Congolese who shoot it out in broad daylight. Sweden has crime-ridden immigrant enclaves where the police dare not go. Whether a country institutes preferences, as Britain has, makes no differences. Once enough aliens arrive, they build parallel societies in which to incubate hatred.

The French have, in fact, proposed a few elementary reforms since the riots. On Nov. 29, Prime Minister de Villepin called for a new law to make it harder for French citizens to marry foreigners. Any marriage taking place abroad would require a screening by the consulate before the foreign spouse gets identity papers. This should reduce the number of “forced brides.” Mr. de Villepin also said the government was studying ways to crack down on polygamy, and would extend the period legal residents must wait before they bring in their families from one year to two.

Still, the major debate in France — whether to start enforcing preferences — completely misses the point of nearly three weeks of unprecedented violence. Multi-racialism has failed in France, just as it has failed everywhere else. Subsidies and preferences will change nothing. The graffiti in the suburbs will still read Nique la France [F**k France]. Masses of Africans will not assimilate. The real issue should be how to persuade them to leave.

Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front called the riots “just the start” of conflicts due to “massive immigration from countries of the Third World that is threatening not just France but the whole continent.” He says the front is “submerged” with applications from new members. According to a November poll for the magazine Paris-Match, the number of Frenchmen who would vote for him for president has jumped six points to 21 percent.

Twenty-one percent is not enough. There could not be a clearer sign of what France must do than simultaneous riots in nearly 300 towns and cities. If France does not act now to keep France French, the next time 300 cities burn it could be too late.