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France

Story feedback (to alinewrites) and e-mail response (to crazybutsound) are still owed and will be dealt with today IF POSSIBLE.  (I have consultants due to arrive at my desk in about 45 minutes; they're going to be spending at least half the day with me, which means LJ stays minimised.  After they leave, I have work projects on deadline (tomorrow afternoon, actually) that have to be wrapped up.)

I'm only doing this post now because I'm getting more and more alarmed by the news stories coming out of France.  The riots are front page news on the Financial Times, New York Times, and even the Los Angeles Times  (which has never particularly impressed me with its interest in international events).  Reading all three papers, here's the list I come up with of cities which have been touched by the rioting:

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
alinewrites
Nov. 7th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC)
Luckily, Hauteville s/ Fier is fine!! (Morgarde lives there).

well, I'm afraid that foreign newspapers are slightly exagerating the situation. It's not a revolution, just the outlet of years of frustration.

Nothing in Lyon itself and I had class with my students this morning; everyone was here, even the ones who live in the suburbs.

I'm not saying that nothing's happening, of course, it would be a lie.

True, in some places -mostly suburbs, people are burning cars but they're not running after people with guns or knives. I wonder if your journalists aren't taking some perverse pleasure in making the situation look worse than it is. From some French journalists' pov, it's some kind of revenge after the criticisms against the American administration.

Anyway, our political leaders, all of them, have clearly proved how incompetent they are; and their lack of ability to handle the situation is dismaying -but not surprising.

Villepin will be talking tonight; no doubt his speech will be as brilliant as it will be meaningless. The only good thing is that it could weaken Sarkozy's position. The "riots" are clearly directed against him.
castalie
Nov. 7th, 2005 09:10 am (UTC)
Exactly what I was telling Karen - I'm curious to see what exactly those foreign news - or the American ones, in this case - are saying and how they're depicting the events because from what people are saying on their journals, you would think we're all hiding in our houses fearing for our lives, which is so far from the truth that - well, anyway, it's just not happening.

So see, Karen? Really no need to worry for us *hugs again*
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)
I've been clipping the news stories and can make copies for you if you like. Let me know.
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 02:45 pm (UTC)
I thought Morgared would probably be okay since she's in a resort area (isn't she?), but I was wondering if a major city like Lyon was going to be affected. I'm glad to hear that you and your students are all right.

I think it's going to be quite interesting to see how Sarkozy comes out of all this. Just in the last few days I've seen comments ranging from the "he should resign" school of thought to the "he's going to come out of this stronger than ever" philosophy. As for Villepin, I've read about his promises that some "action plan" is being developed, but it's all very vague. Maybe he'll present some specifics in his speech tonight.
castalie
Nov. 7th, 2005 09:07 am (UTC)
Those are only the big cities, there're more than that - unfortunately - the "some of its suburbs" would add one hell of a bunch cities to the list. But even I wouldn't see the point in citing every single one of them, granted *nods*

Also, I wonder what they're saying exactly in those foreign news that they worry so many people. I mean, it's pissing us off around here and we're certainly hoping it'll be sorted out soon one way or the other but we're not worried per se - it's not as if there was a climate of fear or anything. Those who were subjected to the biggest riots are devastated, some of them now are unemployed and have a pretty uncertain future and the damage are going to cost the cities and they're so fucking tired with the whole thing, I'm not denying that - but what I mean is, it's not as if the whole country suddenly lived in fear for ther lives... if it makes sense?

So anyway, just a little comment to tell you not to worry at all *hugs*
crazybutsound
Nov. 7th, 2005 09:58 am (UTC)
Well, Mouse and Aline have said it already. I haven't looked at any international articles lately but the few I did have a look at a few days ago seemed to want to emphasize some kind of racial and religious tension and were making what's happening here sound like a revolution.

It's not. Well, at least not yet.

It's not unimportant either, but it's a more complex situation than what I've seen in foreign articles. It's the economy, the difficulties for young people nowadays to build a future, to see what to do with their lives, it's about unemployment, about the younger generation's unease with the way their elder are running the country, etc. Sure, it's about religion and race, too, but I don't think those are either the main problems nor the only ones.

I don't know, it's very weird. There are still outbursts every evening, here and there, and some cities are having bigger difficulties than others, but life is just... the same. As for Lyon, I haven't heard about any real incidents. A little unrest, sure, but nothing that would mean we're on full alert. My friends still work in the same very poor suburb of Lyon where I used to work as well, and they say that outside of not staying after 4:30 when classes are over, they haven't been having any problems. At any rate, we've seen far worse (I remember when my mom's friend's car got burned during the day and she got stuck inside the school for three days with the other teachers and the kids; that was years ago, though). I'm hoping we don't reach the same level of rioting than we did back then.
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen an emphasis on religious issues in any of the articles I've read, but they do all seem to point out the racial aspects. Certainly if it continues to spread and starts drawing in disaffected youths who DON'T have "African/North African immigrant background" attached to them, the stories should change to look at the broader issues you mention. As I told Aline, it's going to be very interesting to see how Sarkozy comes out of all this. The views on his role seem to be all over the map. And Villepin and Chirac, at least at the beginning, seemed to be content to stand back and watch him twist in the wind.

I hope one my newspapers will print a translation of the speech Villepin gave tonight. I'd like to see what he has to say.
crazybutsound
Nov. 7th, 2005 04:26 pm (UTC)
There was this news report on how the foreign press and media were reporting on this tonight during the news, and it was enlightening. There was a lot of room given to religious things and even comments about how it was probably one of the consequences of such politics as the scarf laws. Thing is, what they weren't reporting on was just how young most of the rioters are. We're not talking student-young so much as kid-young, which is probably why we're not considering it so much as a new May 68. For now, there's not much point or drive or organization. Actually, the opposite is happening, with organizations of young people from the same suburbs working as mediators, etc.

Also, even though the majority of youngsters in those suburbs are indeed of African/North African background, the press seems to be forgetting the part where a lot of them have been in France for two or three generations and are not immigrants anymore. Most of the kids in those suburbs are French, for most of them, their parents were French, most of them were born in France, etc. I think everybody is trying to insist on the immigrant/religious problem and I think it's in a way a means of hiding the broader and more generalized issues that would also spread to other social groups.

But yeah, it is going to be interesting to see how everybody in the government comes out of this.

On the same note, I also watched "Les Guignols" tonight (political puppets, like "spitting image") and there was the president's puppet answering questions about his speech and the fact that he'd kept quiet for a bit too long and that when he finally gave his speech, he said nothing and repeated it three times. The interviewer kept telling him he had to give the people something to make them feel like he was in charge, to make them feel hope, etc. It went something like this:

Chirac: "I will not follow the US in the war on Irak, it's a war that is wrong and is being conducted under false pretences."
Interviewer (boggled): "Mr President, what is this? That's nonsense, what are you going on about?"
Chirac: "Well, it's the only good thing I've ever said as a president so I'm trying to reuse it as much as I can."
Interviewer: "But it's not helping with the current situation! Come on Mr President, you must have something to give hope to your people!"
Chirac: "I may have something. I have news, I will not be a candidate in the next elections..."
Interviewer: "Ah! There you go!"
Chirac: "...Mr Sarkozy will be a candidate instead of me."
Interviewer: "Right. Well, there's really no help, then, you really can't say anything to reassure your people." *sigh*

It was really funny. Well, funnier when you were watching it, of course, but yes, funny. I love the Guignols, they are disrespectful in the best ever way.
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC)
The articles I've seen have been mentioning how young the kids are who are taking part in this (13-15 years old is what they keep saying). I saw one quote today from a 13-year-old about how much fun it was to burn cars. God, that's depressing.

jenni_snake wrote a long post on Friday about all of this. You might be interested. It's here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/jenni_snake/20047.html.

crazybutsound
Nov. 7th, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC)
Actually, I read that post before and did think about answering. I disagree with a LOT of what she goes on about in it, even though she has some obvious and interesting points. I thought it was a little simplistic. I would have answered but given the sheer length of the post, I'd need hours to draft a response to it that would be constructed and worthy enough. I might do it... It'd be an interesting debate. Not tonight though. It's bed time now.
greedy_dancer
Nov. 7th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)
i'm still ok, and still out of it - which makes me feel really ashamed as it seems that i'm less informed than THE WHOLE WORLD ... and i actually live in Paris >.>
greedy_dancer
Nov. 7th, 2005 10:10 am (UTC)
now that i've read the previous comments, i have more to say - which might be irrelevant, but anyway.

i remember being in Sydney and talking about the "Redfern riots", which have been a huge deal there. in short, it was a riot in the underpriviledged, Aboriginal suburb, prompted by the death of a young Aboriginal boy in a chase while chased by the police, and ended with a fire in the train station and a couple dozens of injured - not sure about the details anymore, if i'm wrong i apologize in advance. anyway, what i'm getting at is this: when we studied it, my first thought was "a riot? that's not a riot, it's a scuffle!" although it did have a traumatic and long-lasting impact on the population.

anyway, there does seem to be a discrepency between what is happening and what is reported in the international press, maybe because of different perceptions of riots?

oh well. i don't know.
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC)
Well, the other people who've commented have been assuring me that the foreign press is making everything sound much worse than it really is, so I guess that's a relief. One paper this morning did note that this hasn't developed any kind of cohesiveness yet; that there's no "Danny the Red" at the head of things as there was in 1968. Hopefully it will stay that way.

It just seems that no one in the government has any idea how to cool things down, and that's worrisome.
french_hobbit
Nov. 7th, 2005 11:52 am (UTC)
For Saint-Etienne, there was some burnt cars, a school damaged, and one bus was put into fire, too, so the bus drivers decided on a strike for today. Car burning is something that's happening in St-E's suburbs more than once a year (and in Lyon, too, for what I know), and the international press is not talking about it.

And I second all the things written down by the girls above. I don't know how history will remember this, but for now the media are writing it with a rather inflated view.
aswanargent
Nov. 7th, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)
Well, it's much better to hear that the press is blowing things out of proportion than to find it's the other way around. Still, *hugs*.
french_hobbit
Nov. 8th, 2005 10:40 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thanks for your concern, anyway.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )