Monday, July 22, 2013

"Trappes Is a Powderkeg"

The citizens of Trappes in the Yvelines are not Trappists. Most, in fact, are Muslims, and one, a Martiniquaise converted to Islam, was wearing a niqab on Friday when she was stopped by police for an identity check, (presumably) under the law banning burqas, niqabs, and other face-veiling headgear in public places. An altercation ensued between the police and her companion, a man of "Russo-Maghrebi" extraction. (French ethnic identities are becoming quite complicated these days.) There were arrests, followed by protests and violence that has persisted in the city for several days.

One can cite any number of reasons for this fairly banal incident. It has been hot. Trappes is a city plagued with crime and violence. There are new buildings, according to one observer of the city, but nothing new in the way of social programs, job opportunities, or educational enticements. The police may have been a little too zealous in enforcing the law, or the alleged instigators may have been a little oversensitive to the unwanted attentions of the police. Police-community relations seem in general not to be very good.

So Trappes is a symptom. But it's a symptom that's hard to interpret. Is residential segregation in France getting worse? Is it really true that nothing has been done for minorities? Are tensions rising because of the lingering crisis? Or was this just one of those random eruptions that occur from time to time in multicultural societies?

3 comments:

DavidinParis said...

Indeed this is the perfect example of a Multiple Choice test. Read the text and answer the following question to the best of your abilities:

A) Is residential segregation in France getting worse?

B) Is it really true that nothing has been done for minorities?

C) Are tensions rising because of the lingering crisis?

D) Or was this just one of those random eruptions that occur from time to time in multicultural societies?

E) A and B

F) B and C

G) C and D

H) A and D and a bit of B and a dash of C.

Like the riots that occurred in the 'banlieu' in 2006-7 (if I recall the year precisely), this one is not because these citizens want to participate in their society, but because they see no future for themselves in it. So the right answer is complex if not unexpected...

I) (Correct response)... All of the above.

Anonymous said...

I would add that when Ramadan occurs in summer (sun setting late, hot weather), people obviously become quite irritable.

Mélanie

FrédéricLN said...

Yes, A+B+C+a bit of D+ Mélanie's E.

Nevertheless I would not say that " these citizens (don't) want to participate in their society, but ... they see no future for themselves in it."

Demonstrating, and pushing some limits, is a goog old traditional way of participating in French society (not one I would be especially proud of - I praise law and evolution more than riots and revolutions).

Art, just a reservation on "(Most of) the citizens of Trappes in the Yvelines are Muslims": I would be very surprised. My departement (Val d'Oise) has the highest rate of Muslims in France, that is 15%. Maybe the specific city of Trappes is above that rate, 20 or 25%, but more than that would surprise me.

We have in France (as opposed to the USA) a very small number of religion-based or former-country-based neighbourhoods, and the few ones I know are in Eastern Val d'Oise (the Lochères neighborhood in Sarcelles, the Carreaux neighborhood in Villiers-le-Bel near Gonesse as far as I remember), and that is mainly for historical reasons, such as the "exodus" of Egyptian Jews.

Segregation is growing, that's a fact, but the sinking neighborhods are sinking with a number of different religions and geographical origins onboard.