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Saturday, 5 November 2005

International Media

The best coverage on the Iraqi war and the Israel / Palestine conflict comes from France. The best coverage of the French riots is by Al Jazeera. They've got a timeline. It ends before last night when 900 more cars were torched (or some number, I think some of the numbers I'm seeing are cumulative and are being mis-reported in the English-language press as nightly totals). Anyway, between 1000-2000 cars have been burned so far, since this uprising started. Apparently burning cars is a fairly normal happening in poor areas. And a handicapped woman was injured when her bus was set on fire and she couldn't get out quickly. (Reports that she specifically was doused with gasoline while trying to exit the bus seem exceedingly unlikely.) But so far, most "violence" has been limited to property damage.

It's looking like 1968, they say. Rumors are flying. I think Liberation has the best coverage aside from Al Jazeera, but they suck for trying to get a big picture or find out how many cars have been burned. There's some word that riots will continue until Sarkozy, the Interior Minister who called poor youths 'scum', steps down. There's also word that rioters are organizing via blogs and cell phones to motivate youths in other city to set fires and to keep track of police locations. And a lot of what passes for news is a whole lot of rumor.

The French police are not reacting like the American police would. No rioters have been shot. They didn't even bring out helicopters until a night or two ago. The political rhetoric is unfortunate, but the actions of the flics seems somewhat restrained. Maybe because they're in the spotlight? Maybe because they actually got shot at recently? Maybe because they only feel bravado when they outnumber their targets by mass numbers? (I read a news story where a kid complained because the police called for backup to give him a ticket for having his feet on the seat in the subway. Three police vans showed up, he said. So, if it takes three police vans for feet on your seat, they would need at least 12 per rioter . . ..)

Sarkozy should resign. His replacement, hopefully, can enter into dialog with the rioters and maybe there'll be calm.

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Anonymous said...

yes... lets sit down with people who torch 56 year old disabled women and talk. maybe have some nice wine and cheese. give them a hug.

Les said...

No, I have a better idea! Let's keep hurling insults at them, because that will totally calm things down!

We live in the real world and in the real world, we need to find solutions to our real problems. Moral condemnation is nice and all, it makes us feel nice and superior, but it doesn't really do very much good in real life, it just makes things worse. If the riots are to stop, the problems causing the riots must be addressed. Is your goal to have peace or to escalate?

I would condemn setting fire to a bus that's occupied, but there's a difference between doing that and "torching" somebody.

But this anonymous comment is really lovely because it manages to repeat a false report and distort things AND smear french culture at the same time. Bravo!