A sobering update on the French intifada. “French police the target in urban guerrilla war” by Jon Boyle for Reuters, with thanks to all who sent this in:
PARIS (Reuters) – Stoned, beaten and insulted, their vehicles torched by crowds of hostile youths, French police say they face an urban guerrilla war when they enter the run-down neighborhoods that ring the major cities.
“Our role is to guarantee the safety of people and property but the great difficulty today is that police are having problems ensuring their own safety,” said Jerome Hanarte of the Alliance-Police Nationale union.
Bedside television interviews with officers hospitalized after beatings in “les banlieues,” or suburbs, support statistics showing a 6.7 percent jump in violent crime in the 12 months to August.
Fourteen officers are hurt every day in the line of duty, unions estimate, and law and order is sure to feature prominently in next year’s presidential election.
The head of the French crime statistics body told Reuters the rise in attacks on police was partly due to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2002 decision to order police back into tough areas, to disrupt the black economy that fuels crime.
Some residents complain the move spawned constant police harassment which has only exacerbated tensions with local youths, many of whom come from ethnic minorities.
“You can see discrimination in ID controls,” complained Kader Latreche, 36, an Algerian with his own photo equipment repair shop in the La Courneuve suburb.
“Why is it always people from the Maghreb or black people who are being stopped and checked? If it happens over and over again, it gets to you. People are frustrated, that’s obvious.”…
“It’s a false debate,” said Hanarte, whose union is generally supportive of Sarkozy and wants judges to take a tougher stance against delinquents.
“Why put foot patrols in these districts if they will be systematically attacked by youngsters, who are repeatedly arrested and then systematically released by the justice system?
“Having police in these areas can only be a good idea if, beforehand … police have arrested the delinquents in the suburbs. You have to start by that, restoring a certain calm.”…
Comte says the threat to police is so great in some neighborhoods they should exercise their “right to withdraw.” That means refusing to respond to emergency calls if they judge they cannot guarantee their own safety.
“Frankly, it’s not worth getting your head kicked in for an end of year bonus of 200 euros ($256.8),” said the plain clothes officer.
Or for French civilization. After all, if the leadership isn’t defending it, why should the police?