France: riots greet “Sarko-fascist” election

From AFP, May 7 via

Riot squads fired tear gas on Sunday at protestors throwing stones, bottles and, in one instance, acid at police in cities across France after right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential victory.

Clashes took place at Paris’ Place de la Bastille, where about 5000 supporters of the defeated Socialist candidate Segolene Royal had gone to await the election results and had stayed on after Sarkozy’s triumph.

Up to 300 rioters, some wearing scarves around their faces, used bottles and stones in running attacks on police, who responded with baton charges, tear gas and water cannon.

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere,” shouted some of the rioters, while others screamed “Sarko-fascist”.

A small crowd of demonstrators, brandishing black and red anarchist flags, set fire to an effigy of Sarkozy before tearing it limb from limb and stamping on it.

Police cleared the square of rioters and Royal supporters alike by midnight, but hardcore anti-Sarkozy protesters later gathered nearby. When they began running towards the centre of the city and throwing bottles, police in riot gear gave pursuit and fired tear gas.

At least one injured man could later be seen lying on the ground nearby.

Royal predicted violence

Royal, in a sharp campaign jab on Friday, predicted Sarkozy’s election could unleash violence in the mainly immigrant suburbs that were the centre of riots in 2005.

In the Paris suburbs, where the 2005 riots began before quickly spreading across France, more than a hundred cars were burned.

Gangs of youths armed with baseball bats were on the streets in poor suburbs south of Paris, according to police.

Anti-Sarkozy demonstrations took place in several cities across the country on Sunday night, with police using tear gas on over 1000 protestors who began to throw rocks and bottles in the western city of Nantes.

Two police officers were slightly injured by acid thrown on them and 22 people were arrested, police said.

In Marseille, police also fired gas canisters to disperse around 300 protestors in the southern city’s central port area.

In the northern city of Lille police battled about 200 bottle-throwing rioters. One rioter was injured and five arrested.

Firefighters in the region said they had to respond to dozens of incidents of burned cars.

In Bordeaux several police were injured, including one seriously hurt by a thrown paving stone, after a gathering of more than 2000 people turned violent. Police said they arrested 18 people.

Supporters oblivious to the riots

In Lyon, a dozen people were lightly injured after several hundred protestors clashed with police, with 25 people detained, officials said.

Several shop windows were smashed and waste bins set on fire in the city centre, as well as around 40 cars in the region, according to firefighters and police.

Disturbances were also reported in the eastern cities of Nancy and Metz.

Supporters of the president-elect were oblivious to the nasty turn of events. They held a giant celebratory party in a calm part of central Paris.

Sarkozy won 53 percent of the vote, defeating Royal, who garnered 47 percent.

See our last post on France.

  1. A lovely historical irony…
    …that the Sarko-fascist was elected on Cinco de Mayo—when Mexicans recall the 1862 Battle of Puebla, where the patriotic resistance dealt a humiliating defeat to an intervention force landed by Napoleon III to support his puppet Austrian-born “emperor” of Mexico, Maximilian.

    Perhaps Benito Juarez will become a new icon for the smoldering Franco-Intifada, and the anti-imperialists of Francophone Africa (which France considers a “backyard” for military intervention).

  2. 600 arrested…
    An update from AFP, May 8, also via iAfrica:

    More than 700 cars were set alight and 600 people arrested in violence that hit cities across France after the presidential election victory of right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, police said on Monday.

    Seventy-eight police officers were injured in incidents after his triumph over the Socialist Segolene Royal in Sunday’s vote.

    Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse and Rennes were among cities hit by violence blamed by police on extreme-left groups, anarchists and apolitical gangs who clashed with police.

    A total of 730 cars were burned in the high-immigrant suburbs where Sarkozy is a hated figure for his tough stance on immigration and law and order. Police said a total of 592 people were arrested.

    Royal had warned in the run-up to Sunday’s election that a Sarkozy victory could see the country slide into violence and unrest, similar to the rioting that rocked French suburbs in late 2005.

    At the height of those riots, about 700 cars were being burned every night in cities across France for about three weeks. These incidents were combined with attacks on public buildings, 300 of which were hit.

    There were few reports of attacks on public buildings since Sarkozy’s vicory on Sunday.

    Earlier on Monday, a police spokesperson said that the widespread rioting some had feared if Sarkozy won had been largely averted. But he made that comment after police had reported less than 400 cars burned and less than 300 arrests.

    After the updated figures were announced, the police said that the second round of the presidential election has not led to big outbreaks of urban violence and that only small scattered groups have set fire to trash cans and cars.

    Wild celebrations broke out in Paris

    Wild celebrations broke out in the capital on Sunday night, with 30 000 supporters packing the Place de la Concorde where Sarkozy delivered a victory speech, pledging to bring reconciliation.

    Riot police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protestors who burned an effigy of Sarkozy in the Place de la Bastille, a rallying point for Royal supporters.

    There were also incidents with far-left groups in the cities of Lyon, Toulouse, Rennes and Nantes, police said.

    On Monday, some 200 protestors, most of them high-school students, staged a rowdy anti-Sarkozy protest at the Bastille.

    Blocking traffic with metal barriers and camping in the centre of the road near the square, they chanted “Sarko, Fascist, the people will get you!” and draped a French flag scrawled with the slogan “Resist Sarkozy” across the steps of the Opera house.