We are told by the Paris correspondent for the leftist Independent newspaper that the rioters have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. I wonder how this correspondent knows so much about rioters’ deep identities. The young Muslim who attacked my wife’s cousin on a Paris bus seemed to have a religious-political identity (or at least an anti-semitic one). The same is true, judging from the reports I receive, of the kids who often attack the children of the same cousin.
That the rioters make no political demands is neither surprising nor reassuring. As I suggested last night, the fact that these people stand outside of normal French politics is part of what’s most frightening. The young rioters, we are assured by those in the know, merely want to protect their turf without being harassed by the police. What this really means is that they want to commit crime and terrorize their neighborhoods without encountering the police. But this essentially secessionist goal is not an apolitical agenda. The desire to create lawless Muslim enclaves within France is precisely what makes these riots less like the riots in this country that occurred along side of the mainstream civil rights struggle, and more like an intifada. Our civil rights movement pushed for, and the riots probably helped bring about, a vastly increased African-American presence in the police forces of our cities. In Paris, by contrast, the issue is the right to be unpoliced.
Moreover, the fact that the rioters themselves are young and arguably apolitical in some sense doesn’t mean that there is no Islamofascist element or content. The foot soldiers in this kinds of insurrections are almost always young and politically unsophisticated. It may still be the case that, behind the young foot soldiers, stand more conventionally political elements with an Islamofascist agenda or bent. What, for example, are we to make of the discovery of a bomb manufacturing facility in Evry, south of Paris?
Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey notes that the French riots have come after multiple warnings of Islamist attacks, and looks at would could have been a key warning in late September.
And over at Tech Central Station, Stephen Schwartz looks at what he calls “‘Red Belt’ Riots”:
Even 26 years ago, it was obvious that France and its North African communities were dangerously polarized. The outcome of that contradiction is now visible in the rioting that has convulsed the Parisian region, and over the past weekend Aubervilliers appeared as a tragic dateline in global media. The suburb is an historical part of what was once known as the “red belt,” centered in the region of Seine-Saint-Denis, along with other riot-riven places, such as Clichy-sous-Bois and Vitry-sur-Seine. They took their nickname from their long municipal rule by the hard Stalinists of the French Communist Party. They were centers of light industry, and early in the mornings I would leave the apartment and go to a small, shabby bistro where native French factory workers downed their first alcohol of the day, and their cups of strong coffee, smoking Gauloises and Gitanes while waiting for their shifts to start. Arabs did not frequent such caf