Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Statement On Recent Violence in France

If the children of disadvantaged Arab and black immigrants in France want to see positive changes in their situation, if they want the French Government with President Sarkozy at its head to be attentive to their plight and needs, the inconvenient truth they need to reconcile themselves with is that shooting at members of the police - and media - is counterproductive to their aims. Unless their goal is another revolution, one that would put the relatively newly-arrived in power over the inarguably long-established, then the appearance of "genuine urban guerrillas with conventional weapons and hunting weapons" (to quote one French official) in the suburbs of Paris is a totally unacceptable escalation in the struggle for societal recognition and economic rectification in France.

In a democracy, it is usually only criminals who feel the need to fire upon agents of law enforcement. That being said, what with the history of violent, forceful agitation against one governmental structure or another in France going back hundreds of years, each outbreak of violence there is sadly much less surprising than it ought to be. Even so, whatever mistakes have been made by however many successive French administrations, the sort of violence which has recently broken out in the French Republic is particularly deplorable. A couple of youths riding an unsafe vehicle, without protection, accidentally crashing into a police car and dying is hardly a good enough excuse for destroying property and, as may happen, lives.

What do these people really hope to gain? If it becomes as easy for them to fire upon better-off civilians as it is for them to fire upon the police who are pledged to those - and all - civilians' protection, where does the violence end? And what will it lead to? Attempting to kill those you seek some sort of reparations from is a bully tactic, designed to induce fear, and almost inevitably results in the replacement of anger for compassion amongst the populace. Discrimination and racism should always be condemned in the harshest of terms, but what disadvantaged minorities in France need are not apologists for criminal acts, but activists who work with the authorities peacefully, not against them violently, to find solutions to pressing problems.

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