Monday, November 07, 2005

The Arab Street in France

France's intifada is getting worse: nearly two solid weeks of violence, now spread to more than 250 towns and cities.

The biggest problems: (1) lack of police presence; (2) lack of leadership.

France has one of the largest police forces in Europe (and it is national, not city by city), but a miniscule on-street presence thanks to strong labor unions that carved out a surfeit of desk jobs and training jobs for France's "finest".

French leaders (Villepin, Chirac; not Sarkozy) cannot tear themselves away from their knee-jerk appeasement mode, even though the French people seem to be made of sterner stuff. And those leaders refuse to acknowledge the degree to which their socialist and protectionist policies have created this situation -- the disaffected Muslim youth resulted in part from France's failure to insist on assimilation and concurrent failure to ensure that those who sought to assimilate would have the chance for a better life with opportunities for jobs and social advancement.

Europeans cannot help but worry -- as this article in Der Spiegel shows. And the violence is spreading, whether as a concerted effort (unlikely) or copycat barbarity by Muslims in other European cities -- as Paul Belien notes, both Brussels and Berlin suffered doses of Paris-lite last night with not-so-mysterious car fires in Muslim areas of those cities -- which begs the question of why Muslim leaders and ambassadors in these capitals are so silent.

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