Sarkozy: France must stop tolerating the intolerable

In Le Monde, presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy denounced “la minorité violente” who have now brought their rioting ever closer to downtown Paris, to the Gare du Nord. It should be noted that the train station serves some of the “banlieux sensibles,” the North African and Muslim enclaves beset by violence over the last several years, and which, in many cases are ruled not so much by French law but by the millet system of the old Ottoman empire:

Nicolas Sarkozy a estimé, mercredi 28 mars, que la police avait “fait son travail”, mardi à la gare du Nord, ajoutant que “pendant des années on a laissé faire n’importe quoi”. Il a déploré que la France était “le seul pays où l’on considère qu’arrêter quelqu’un parce qu’il ne paie pas son billet, ce n’est pas normal”. L’ancien ministre de l’intérieur s’est demandé : “Si la police n’est pas là pour faire régner un minimum d’ordre, quel est le rôle de la police ?”

Un peu plus tard dans la journée, Nicolas Sarkozy s’est rendu gare du Nord afin de prendre le train pour Lille. Accueilli par des sifflets et aux cris de “provocation” lancés par quelques usagers, l’ancien ministre de l’intérieur a salué des policiers sur le quai au pied de son wagon. “Ce n’est pas du tout un ‘climat’ dans le pays. C’est parce que depuis des années, une idéologie post-soixante-huitarde a conduit à tolérer l’intolérable”, a déclaré le candidat de l’UMP. M. Sarkozy a encore estimé qu’il n’était “pas normal que des gens interviennent” pour s’opposer à une interpellation et que “les forces de l’ordre ont réagi avec beaucoup de maîtrise”. L’ex-ministre de l’intérieur s’est dit “du côté de ceux qui payent leur billet de train et qui n’acceptent pas qu’on démolisse les gares” et contre “la minorité violente qui a le sentiment que tout est permis”. “J’espère que la justice sanctionnera fermement le fraudeur et les autres”, a-t-il souligné.

Note Sarkozy’s comment that post ’68 France has seen witnessed the trend of “tolerating the intolerable” and that this must stop if public order is to be maintained. Meanwhile the IHT covered the story on the inside of the paper and took, in some respects, the more politically correct line, with talk about “disenfranchised youths” and the like:

Rail lines connect Gare du Nord to the same troubled suburbs north of Paris that were gripped by rioting in October and November 2005. That violence was born of pent-up anger — especially among youths of Arab and African origin — over years of high unemployment, racial discrimination and economic inequality.

Since then, sporadic incidents have broken out in suburbs that many middle-class French people avoid. The violence at Gare du Nord was unusual because it is in the heart of Paris, the terminal for Eurostar trains linking France to Britain. It gave added urgency to addressing the problems of France’s disenfranchised minority youths — already a central issue of the campaign. Many of the rioters appeared to be of African or North African origin.

Far-right presidential candidate Philippe de Villiers, who wants to stop immigration to France, said the violence shows “there are ethnic gangs installed on our territory and who now feel that even the Gare du Nord is theirs.”

Baroin warned against using the violence for political advantage and said it was not unique to France. He took over as interior minister on Monday, leaving his predecessor Sarkozy to focus on the April 22-May 6 two-round presidential vote.

Many youths in poor neighborhoods see Sarkozy as the symbol of French police repression, taking issue with his tough policing and talk — as minister he once called delinquents “scum.”

Some of the youths rampaging at Gare du Nord shouted slogans against Sarkozy. Sarkozy said the violence showed that French children need lessons in civic responsibility in school. “When individuals come to the rescue of someone who is committing fraud, that is particularly unacceptable, and I hope that the justice system will firmly sanction people who behave like that,” he told reporters. Sarkozy has won praise from some observers for handling the 2005 riots with no major bloodshed.

But his leftist opponents say he has exacerbated the suburbs’ problems, and that his government deepened divisions in French society. “Police are afraid to go in certain neighborhoods, or to carry out certain security checks,” Royal told Canal Plus television. “Sometimes people are afraid simply when they see police.”

It remains to be seen if events like the Gare du Nord riot, and the differing perspectives of candidates Royal and Sarkozy, will have an impact on the coming election over the next few weeks.

3 Responses to “Sarkozy: France must stop tolerating the intolerable”

  1. Michael (Germany) Says:

    My gut feeling (informed by watching quite a bit of French info TV channels lately) is that the new riots will drive non-negligeable number of so far undecided voters, mostly from among those hitherto inclining towards the “centrist” Bayrou, into the Sarkozy camp.

  2. staghounds Says:

    That doesn’t make sense, more riots will hurt M. Sarkozy and pull votes right, not left. He has been in charge of internal security and law enforcement for several years, if there are more riots they will be happening under his “watch”.

    People who blame riots on rioters won’t vote for more of the same, they will vote for M. Le Pen or Vicomte De Villiers.

    People who blame riots on France will always have voted left, more riots just mean we haven’t done enough for the youths.

  3. HILLBLOGGER Says:

    Sarkozy: France must stop tolerating the intolerable

    Totally agree with Mr Sarkozy here.

    Immigrants of any color, race or creed who are hell bent on sowing chaos in our capital must be sent home.

    Those that cannot be sent home must be told in no uncertain terms that anti-social behaviour cannot be tolerated. If they wish to do that, they should go to England.

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