France Burns

It is heartbreaking to see France, one of this world’s most beautiful countries, torn about by young punks who think rioting is a national sport like football.

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A bus and cars set alight in Lyon's 6th arrondissement, during riots after the death of 17-year-old Nahel BRUNO AMSELLEM / DIVERGENCE FOR LE MONDE

Metz France – Ah, springtime in France.  I was having a dinner with my friend Walter at the city of Metz. This was part of my regular visit to the World War II Maginot Line forts.  Just as we were about to begin savoring a very fine ‘grey’ rosé, all hell broke loose. 

Mobs of teenagers rampaged down the street right outside our restaurant window.  Chairs, tables, cars, vans – all were smashed or burned by the surging mobs.  Many were Africans, but plenty of Arabs were evident as were a sizeable number of young whites.  Most of the rioters wore heavy helmets, goggles, thick clothing and carried either sticks or iron bars. 

Screams and howls of fury dominated the evening as the mobs converged on Metz’s wonderfully Gothic train station built by the Germans before WWI.  Businesses were warned to shut down and send their workers home.  Heavily armed paramilitary police – notably the Gendarmes Mobiles – suddenly appeared. One very tall officer armed with a long iron bar stood guard over our eatery’s front door, to our comfort,

Riots also struck the French cities of Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes and, of course, Paris, which was wreathed in tear gas.  Firefighters, who are part of the armed forces, massed men and equipment.

The uproar began when a 17-year-old boy of North African descent refused to stop for police and drove away at high speed.  This is a not unfamiliar scenario in the violence-torn USA.  A policeman apparently shot the absconding young men.  As usual, the poor, run-down, slummy apartment blocks that surround most major cities (‘banlieu’ in local talk) erupted in violence. In short, your usual prison riot.

As per usual, politicians all blamed their opponents.  The left claimed that poverty, police brutality, discrimination, anti-Muslim and anti-black hatred ignited the riots. It was the old ‘Black Lives Matter’ routine again. But not entirely without cause as Muslims suffer intense prejudice in France and are condemned to squalid lives.  The ever-growing number of African immigrants flooding into France and Britain are often hostile and violent, not to mention unemployable.

I’ve seen it all before in my native New York City.  In the last century, Irish politicians who ran Tammany Hall massively encouraged immigration.  To no surprise, these newcomers (among them my relatives) tended to vote Democratic. Today, over a century later, the Dems in Washington are following the same strategy of importing voters. President Joe Biden’s key base is black African Americans. When they riot, the response from Washington is as wishy-washy as from Paris.

France’s five million Muslims largely originated from importing low-cost workers and from the offspring of the Algerian soldiers, known as harkis, who fought for ‘French Algeria’ then fled to France at the war’s end.  Canada has just done something similar by bringing in sizeable numbers of Afghan collaborators who did service for Canadian occupation troops. That story will not end happily either.

It is heartbreaking to see France, one of this world’s most beautiful countries, torn about by young punks who think rioting is a national sport like football. There is no excuse in our day and age to rip up paving blocks and smash store windows with them, burn lovely old buildings or menace honest citizens.

France is one of the most advanced, best-run nations on earth.  Unlike the former used-car salesmen who populate the US Congress, France has a more decent class of politicians with a mature sense of their duty. But we, like France, are being punished for sins more than a century old.

Copyright. Eric S. Margolis 2023

Eric S. Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in globally recognized newspapers and He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC. As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.

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