Tuesday, November 08, 2005

france state of emergency

the guardian has an article outlining the state of emergeny instituted by villepin (link)

the article touches on an idea raised by one of my berkeley friends:
The Egyptian daily Al-Massaie referred to the riots as ``the intefadeh of the poor.'' Arabic satellite networks have given lead coverage to the mayhem, with regular live reports. Newspapers have followed the story on inside pages, calling it a ``nightmare'' and a ``war of the suburbs.''
the idea is that while the riots might seem to have nothing to do with radical islam, and perhaps islam itself in general, muslim groups across europe and elsewhere have latched onto this outburst and used it as an illustration of the western world's poor treatment of muslims. this can be a vehicle for their ideas.

-- now i'm going to get in my soapbox and post some thoughts that i haven't given enough thought to, but want out there --

i think the reality is that questions around islam in france are certainly worth considering in light of this uprising, however to focus on that might be to neglect more important concerns about race, political access, and workplace access for minorities in france.

my friend also wished that there was some way someone could interview all the people arrested in this uprising: why did you do it? did you have goals? were there leaders? how do you feel about... etc..

i think doing that is extremely important, and one dimension of its importance that particularly fascinates me is how the sum might be very different than the individual parts... things have emerged from these actions that might have nothing to do with any of the goals of the involved individuals. how does that happen? how does the meaning change and evolve as it moves through the network of public thought and opinion?

1 comment:

bea said...

I think at this point, a lot of commentators are overthinking at this point. They are wondering how what can be assumed to be rational people would compel themselves to burn cars and destroy their own neighborhoods and continue an almost month-long siege in the projects.

It's an easy answer when you have lived in those kinds of neighborhoods before--there's an air you can't describe, of being disrespected by everyone around you, especially the government etc. How hard it is, to have an employer who will hire you and respect you as a human being. To be afraid of your safety and that of your family, and worse yet, coming to a country where you don't speak the language, to make a few euros an hour that gets sent home anyway.

If these riots hadn't happened, no one (including myself) except a very very small minority, would be writing about these people, trying to analyze them and figure out "how did this happen?"

There's just a point when basically everything in life is pointed against you and you've had enough. Some of the people rioting are probably the normal assholes that we all deal with on a daily basis--but some of those other ones--they were normal kids who, if they had a better shot in life, say living in a middle-class suburb and living with the expectation that one goes to college, has a career, raises a family etc. that they're essentially just like us.