You probably didn’t hear about it, but Muslim youths rioted in Grenoble, France, on July 16, sparking some of the worst instability the country has faced since the 2005 riots. Now, like then, most of the media declined to mention the religious or ethnic background of the rioters, instead painting them as unruly youngsters and covering the eyes of the public to the slow dissolution of France as we know it.
The violence began soon after a Muslim robbed a casino and opened fire as he tried to flee the police, who then shot and killed him. This apparently raised the ire of major elements of the mostly Muslim urban communities who live in poor neighborhoods unassimilated into the greater society. The shooting was seen as an attack on Muslims, rather than an act of justice. Shortly following a speech by an Islamic cleric at a ceremony for the robber, the match was struck. As of now, there are no media reports revealing what the cleric said, if anything, to stoke the flame.
Over fifty cars were set ablaze. Stores were also burned and a tramway stoned. Gang members carrying baseball bats took over buses. When the police arrested one rioter, things got worse. Law enforcement officers were fired upon and targeted with stones and Molotov cocktails. It wasn’t for four days that a level of calm returned.
This is France today. Police must fear that any use of force against a criminal with a Muslim background could be interpreted as an act of brutality and racism that must be responded to with violence.
The country was first forced to recognize the problem in 2005 when riots broke out in 300 towns for three weeks following the deaths of two Muslim teenagers who were electrocuted when they hid in a power station believing they were being chased by police. Fires were set to over 300 buildings and over 9,000 cars. A state of emergency was declared and nearly 3,000 rioters were arrested and 126 police officers were injured. Schools, gyms, stores, churches, and police stations were attacked as the rioters clashed with police. Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal would later boast that he convinced Rupert Murdoch to order Fox News to stop describing the rioters as Muslims.
It didn’t take long for the disgruntled Muslim urbanites to go for a second round. In May 2006, about 100 youths with baseball bats fought with police on the same battlefields from the previous year. The mayor had to flee his home when it was stoned, homemade explosives were tossed at the town hall building, trash cans were in flames, and four cars were blown up. It is not clear what exactly sparked the violence, but two arrests for separate incidents did precede the upheaval.