French Fried: Readers Respond to the Riots

In a wide-ranging Live Online discussion on the French riots yesterday, readers weighed in with some timely questions and comments, including:

From Windsor Mill, Md.: "Fox News has bannered this story as 'Muslim Riots.' Has that been the trend with all of Murdoch's publications? "

From Washington, DC: "Do you sense a number of non-French are gloating a bit at France's misery? France, with a reputation for telling the rest of the world how to live, is suddenly being given advice from all over on how to deal with internal French problems. Do you think this is bugging the French?"

From Chicago: "I've been looking at a number of French news sites from across the political spectrum. It seems to me that the more conservative are taking a more politically-oriented approach to the coverage (Le Monde, for example, seems usually to refer to reassurances and proposals from on high), while leftist papers like Liberation place a good deal of focus on what's actually going on."

For the answers to these and other questions, read the complete transcript.

By Jefferson Morley |  November 9, 2005; 4:42 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
Previous: Europe Wonders 'Could It Happen Here?' | Next: The End of Teflon Tony Blair?


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I had to chuckle at the statement from one of your reader who wrote that "France, with a reputation for telling the rest of the world how to live is sudddenly given advice from all over!!!".
Perhaps this is his/her sentiment in view of the anti-US-Iraqi war (which seems to be gaining popularity in the US), however these old anti-war rallies hardly translates into "telling the world how to live"; this is our job.

Posted by: Elaine | November 10, 2005 01:46 PM

It seems to me that no one in the US should gloat at the demonstrations and riots occurring in France given our history.

Posted by: collette | November 11, 2005 10:01 AM

In response to whether the riots have anything to do with the religious belief of the rioters (mostly Muslim), Morely claimed that it actually is a factor.

Besides the usual "Islamic fundamentalism" black sheep, Mr. Morely also brought up "Islamic culture".

To lump various French North Africans and black Africans communities into a single cultural body (Islamic culture) is to beg the adjectives "racist" and "ignorant".

"Jefferson Morley: I think you're almost completely right. The only thing I would say that is that Muslim culture is part of the alienation.

Witness the controversy in France over the wearing of headscarves. The ban on headscarves enjoyed general support in France because the French knew that no small number of girls did not wear headscarves voluntarily but because they were forced by tyrannical old brothers and fathers invoking Islamic beliefs."

Of course, these riots are not about headscarves. But I think Islamic fundamentalism has to be a factor in social alienation."

Notice the "harsh" language used for Brother and Fathers: tyrannical, and forceful. And then comes the association with "Islamic belief".

After all, what did one except from Fathers and Brothers who pray to Allah?

Well in the words of Mr. Morely these "people" are tyrannical towards their own daughters and sisters. Mothers who pray to Allah are for some reason not tyrannical.

Of course when Parents, who don't pray to Allah, enforce a certain dress code (or moral) on their kids, they are merely "loving and caring" parents.

To back his irresponsible claim and his abusive exaggeration, Morely wrote it was because the French people (you know, the real French "de souche") knew it.

What Morely claims is that the French actually know what goes in their Ghettos (Les banlieus). That is simply false.

Mr. Morely does not explain why the controversial scarf issue did not cause any riots in France. Not to mention that it is quite irresponsible to summarize the complex issue of the scarf in few lines.

I lived in France when the issue of the scarf was brought up for THE FIRST TIME.

When did you live in the French Ghettos aka HLM, Mr. Morely?

Have you had any close contact with French from North African origin?

To imply that the rioting suburbs might have to do with zealous, jihadist strongholds is quite ludicrous. There is no evidence to support this except speculation based on prejudice.

To better understand this problem, I highly suggest watching Mathieu Kassovitz's movie "La Haine" (Hate).

This movie might clear up some of the prejudice and misconceptions displayed in your answers.

Please don't write about something you are not familiar with, namely Muslim, North African, and Arab issues. I think It is better that you conitnue quoting directly from their various newspapers rather than present your own opinion as facts.

There are more than 1 BILLION Muslims in the world who live across the globe in different countries, speaking different languages and living in different cultures and social norms.

Posted by: karim | November 11, 2005 01:05 PM

Don`t single out France ,as being responsible for the riots.Years of encouraging almost unlimited immigration following WW11,mainly from former colonies,have resulted in similar situations throughout Western Europe(England,Germany,Holland,Norway etc.)and of course there is a cultural clash;compounded by religion.Islam must be rejoicing that after being stopped at the gates of Vienna in the 17 century,they are now ia position to conquer.

Posted by: Melvin | November 11, 2005 04:33 PM

The many irresponsible hateful and prejudiced posts on this blog is beyond comprehention.

According to the lastest revelation, Muslims are now conquering Europe.

I can't imagine what it would be if the Washington Post was a right-wing newspaper. In one right-wing blog that was commenting on Al-Jazeera (Arabic News Channel), one poster openly called for the nuking of the station.

It's hard to understand that these uncivilized messages are coming from people who supposely live in the most advanced and the most powerful nation on earth.

Posted by: Karim | November 11, 2005 06:25 PM

However you look at it, it is clear that France suffers from two things. First, it is economically backwards. The inability to create jobs in order to employ most anyone who wants to work is itself a sign of this, not to mention a tragedy in today's globalised world. Secondly it is backwards when it comes to racial issues, as evidenced by the lack of proper representation of its racial minories on TV, in high-paying jobs, etc.. The absence of policies to correct this imbalance means there is a lot of work to be done at the government/societal level. Therefore status quo policies will only make things worse in the long term. In my view the government needs to act now to right these two major deficiencies, which may require an entente with the political opposition on these matters.

Posted by: Trainspotting | November 12, 2005 07:08 AM

In my opinion the assimilation of the rioters is the main job and ,of course,that will require a good faith effort by the rioters and the authorities. If it is only papered over the problem will be intractable . What plan do I have ? None .

Posted by: seajay14 | November 14, 2005 05:16 AM

France brought the riots on themselves, whether or not it has any direct ties to Muslim extremism -- and it looks doubtful that such ties exist. By inviting people into their country without maing adequate social policy adjustments (over the past 3-4 decades, I might add), the government has created the circumstances for social unrest. I migth add that the same thing happened inmy home town, Los Angeles, as well as Chicago and elsewhere in the 1960s and 1970s with regrad to the ghettoes and treatment of the primarily African-American populations of those ghettoes. But the US, unlike France, has acted proactively, to some degree, to improve it's social policy-making with regard to educational, professional, and community-building opportunites. For al of France's high-and-mighty bluster with regard to the United States, we have done a MUCH MUCH better job of creating an integrated and culturally tolerant society than they have. 22,000 vehicles torched last year alone... Ouch!

Posted by: Ariel | November 14, 2005 11:35 AM

elain How can you be so sure that you live in the good way ? Do you know that occidental civilizations are bringing the earth to his death because of the consumerism ?
Saddam Hussein was a great friend of George Bush father. But suddenly because of the direction of the foreign affairs office, the government decided to go on war against him. Why ? Because Halliburton and others are going to have reconstruction and oil expolitation contracts ?
Don't be blind.
The US made a lot of wars and put dictators where American government wants for protecting its economy from its own fall. And by being the first customer of the world but without producing the US is going to involve the rest of the world in its fall.

Posted by: andrea | November 14, 2005 08:39 PM

I have to disagree with ariel, the US having created an integrated and culturally tolerant society is a fantasy.The arrogance and narcissism of France mirrors America. They are twins.America is full of immigrants who complain that Americans ignore their culture and bombard them with racist comments. I can see what is happenning in France,also happenning in the U.S.
It is tiring to hear Americans spouting out the propaganda that they are the greatest nation on earth. How about some humbleness, some insight into the very serious issues of class division, racism, and social unrest.America is the neighborhood bully and we are learning from their mistakes.No one likes a braggard.

Posted by: Gael | November 15, 2005 01:31 PM

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