Rioting breaks out again in Paris and quickly draws France's Presidential campaign into its maw. A special report for PJM by Paris editor, Nidra Poller
Paris March 29, 2007
Signs that the times are changing-24 hours after the punk jihad riots, the media delivered a profile of the “kid” whose arrest sparked 8 hours of mayhem in the bowels of the Gare du Nord.
The “kid” is one Angelo H. He is, it turns out, 32 years old, an illegal Congolese immigrant, and subject to a deportation order 1993.
The “kid” has been in trouble since he came to France at the age of ten–twenty-two registered condemnations for violent incidents and many that went unreported.
The cops initially went to arrest a little cheater and found they had bagged a hardened criminal. Instead of paying for a ticket like millions of law-abiding passengers Angelo H. jumped the turnstile and was, exceptionally, arrested. In a matter of seconds he had head-butted-or slapped-one of the RATP agents. When the agents wrestled him to the ground, Angelo screamed bloody murder, a small crowd gathered in protest against the agents’ brutality. And the call to battle rang out.
Almost instantly Angelo became a thirteen year-old boy whose arms were fractured by the cruel agents (shades of Mohamed al Dura). Then a pregnant woman was added to the list of victims of police brutality. All that was missing was “the infidels set fire to the mosque.”
Police reinforcements arrived, tried in vain to calm the situation, resorted to the use of tear gas. The crowd swelled to an estimated three to four hundred, battled the police until 1:30 AM (the incident began at 4:30 PM) when calm was restored.
For how long? Anyone who has visited Paris and hurried down the endless corridors of, for example, Ch√¢telet metro & RER station & banlieu hangout, can imagine future battles in this ongoing punk jihad. The clash of civilizations that Europe does not want to recognize is rolling into Paris on the metro rails.
Against the Giuliani principle, represented in a mild French version by Nicolas Sarkozy, stands the jihad-intifada strategy: I disrespect your laws, defy your authority, attack you frontally and if you dare lift a hand against me I scream “victim” and call in my troops.
Gare du Nord is a vast transportation hub where trains from the banlieue-housing projects and lush suburbs juxtaposed-meet buses and m√©tros that fan into all corners of the city; the luxurious Eurostar floats across the channel and older, slower long distance trains chug northward. Hapless commuters found themselves in the middle of the battlefield as the vandals clashed, smashed, and bashed. The attackers set fire to an information booth, threw a sixty-kilo potted plant down from a mezzanine, aiming at the riot policemen-a miracle no one was hit-broke candy machines, automatic ticket vendors, glass partitions, and shop windows and looted a sports shoe shop.
Before noon the next day the sting of teargas still hung in the air but all the glass had been swept up and the damaged stairways and escalators were roped off. The battlefield was concentrated on an underground concourse one level above platforms 42 and 44. Only a few of the 100 shops in the concourse were vandalized but the battle had raged on three levels of the station. The saleswoman of a chocolate shop a few hundred meters from the site of the initial altercation told me that she couldn’t see what was happening but she heard the man (Angelo) screaming and saw people running to the scene. She thought things would quiet down, but when the police started using teargas (I looked at the chocolates exposed and vulnerable) she closed her shop and soon afterward made her way to the upper level and left the station. Who were the troublemakers, I asked? Les jeunes, she replied, the youths, assuming I knew what that meant.
The Net has made it impossible to keep the details under cover. In the old days this “hero” of the Battle of the Gare du Nord and the troops that fought in his name would have remained “youths.” Instead images captured by both amateur and professional cameras circulated immediately and the media quickly filled in with eyewitness testimony and background stories on the everyday atmosphere at the train station hangout and everywhere the facts enjoy equal rights with the fancy.
Rachid M’Bakri, reporting from the front lines for BFM TV, repeated the word “youths” every two seconds against a real-time background of strapping men between the ages of 18 and 40 committing acts of gratuitous violence. Of the thirteen “youths” arrested, five are minors; the others apparently were adult youths. The whole world is watching…but are they understanding?
Let us begin with an intellectual and work our way over to presidential candidates. S√©bastian Roch√©, scholar at the state-run research center (CNRS), interviewed by Le Monde, says “when the police use force to impose constraints it means the police are weak and, in the eyes of the public, illegitimate.”
S√©gol√®ne Royal uses the violence to beat on Sarkozy: when a simple confrontation with a ticketless passenger leads to such an outburst of violence it is proof of the dismal failure of Nicolas Sarkozy’s tenure as Minister of the Interior (he resigned Monday). Royal promises, when elected, to make France a country of mutual respect. Where, presumably, criminal illegals and 40 year-old youths with iron bars will respect RATP (public transportation network) agents who will in turn respect them. It’s gagnant-gagnant, says Royal, and no one in France seems to know it’s a translation of win-win.
Further to the Left on a dangerously sliding scale the fifth-string presidential candidates stomp on Sarkozy and propose self-evident solutions such as absolutely free transportation and a prohibition against riot stationing riot police at m√©tro and RER (commuter trains) entries and exits. Fran√ßois Bayrou surprised no one by attributing the violence to 25 years of alternating right and left governments.
On the right, Philippe de Villiers put the blame on uncontrolled immigration. The banlieue riots, he said, have come to the center of Paris, and now a central train station is added to the 800 sites already tagged as off-limits for presidential candidates. Could it be that Bayrou and Royal, who are always bragging that they can go wherever they want in the banlieue, are actually sticking to a few safe zones?
Bush, Blair, Sharon, Sarkozy
Smug commentators take delight in showing that the Americans can’t stop the violence in Iraq; they blame it on Bush. Palestinian shahids blow Israeli civilians to smithereens; it was blamed on Sharon. Homegrown jihadis burst their bombs in the London tube & double-decker bus; it is blamed on Blair, Bush’s lapdog. French riot police do not know how to handle this new form of urban warfare; it’s blamed on Sarkozy. Three weeks before the first round of the presidential elections, the forbidden subjects of Islam, dhimmitude, and jihad are pushing their way to the forefront, even if the appropriate vocabulary is avoided like the plague.
What do French voters think when they see enraged hoodlums tearing up public property and shouting vulgar threats against Sarkozy? How much longer will fellow travelers be fooled, and fool the general public? Last week, outraged citizen-parents and the principal of a kindergarten tried to stop the police from arresting an illegal immigrant in a caf√© near the school.
The Chinese grandfather who came to pick up his grandchildren was equated with Jewish citizens rounded up by the Vichy police and sent to the Nazi death camps. Education sans fronti√®res activists miraculously arrived on the scene just in time to foment the rebellion. Now it turns out that the association’s motives go beyond protecting schoolchildren and their parents from deportation; they want residence permits for all illegals.
French schools must accept pupils without asking for proof of citizenship or legal residence. Children born in France are automatically French regardless of the origin and status of their parents. Nothing is easier than to slip into France unnoticed, bear children, send them to school, and resist deportation. The brave citizens, convinced of their good faith and revolutionary courage, don’t realize that they are committing an injustice against legal candidates for immigration who apply, fill out forms, pay for expensive medical exams and legal translation of documents, comply, wait patiently, and respect the final decision.
The morning after the Gare du Nord mega-skirmish, France-Info–the state-owned all-news radio station-followed its report on the domestic incidents with an item on the British hostage crisis. Reading a release that bears the inimitable Agence France Presse stamp, the announcer said Britain is helpless-literally “impotent”– in the face of Iran’s determination. Tony Blair threatens to move relations with Iran into a “new phase,” but his aides immediately toned down the rhetoric-Britain will not cut off diplomatic relations or launch a military attack against Iran. Several hours later the same station announced that Britain has frozen relations with Iran. But French media, in a folly of irresponsible even-handedness, continue to give equal credibility to Iranian accusations and British denials.
Meanwhile the Saudi peace plan was unanimously approved at a summit conference in the oil-rich kingdom, and the world’s media dutifully applauded the generously offer handed to a recalcitrant Israel. In fact, the United Arab Conquest was delivering a classic jihad ultimatum. Israel must accept the plan as-is–and turn over the disputed territories, more than half of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the key to all the rest in the form of a “just solution to settlement of the [Palestinian] refugee problem”-or else it will be conquered by war.
Which brings us back to the Gare du Nord. The soft banlieue narrative of left wing presidential candidates is shattered by the realities of an 8-hour battle against the police and public property. The cuddly toy cause c√©l√®bre has been replaced by a 32 year-old criminal, and the romanticized 2005 rioters have rematerialized in the shape of three to four hundred combatants mobilized in minutes in just one single Parisian train station.
The Gare du Nord vandals, the Iranian hostage takers, the killer shahids, the beheaders, the mass murder masterminds, the ultimatum peace planners, and the fellow traveling anti-warriors are attacking us on all sides with whatever weapons they can grab, combined and reinforced by the lethal narrative of their victimhood-crusades, colonisation, neocolonialism, discrimination, humiliation, occupation–and our guilt.
Speaking in Lille the day after the incidents, Nicolas Sarkozy met the racaille head on: They shouted my name at the Gare du Nord? That’s fine with me! They are not my friends, and I am not their friend. I am not on their side.
Sarkozy refuted the glorification of the smashers and refused to lump them together under the heading “banlieue.” Most of the people living in the banlieue, riding those trains in and out of the Gare du Nord, work hard and pay their way, he said. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the 1968 Red firebrand recycled into a Green Eurodeputy, accuses Sarkozy of turning a pitiful turnstile-jumper into an al Qaeda operative. But anyone with eyes to see can recognize that our democracy is in danger when hundreds of enraged men-and women–inflamed by a wild rumor can unleash their fury then and there, on the spot, for hours on end.
In the heat of the battle, M’Bakri of BFMTV held out his mike to an angry adult with a hooded sweatshirt and ethnic skin, who vomited expletives against Nicolas Sarkozy, and threatened to wreak havoc if he were elected president. A female voice just off camera, with an ethnic accent, said “I don’t agree…” Cut! End of man in the train station interview. It would have been instructive to hear both sides of the question.