New Franco-Intifada: plus ça change…

Well, if you thought that France getting a new Socialist president, François Hollande, was going to mean a retreat from the Franco-dystopia that unfolded under his reactionary predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy—time to think again. Sarkozy’s election in 2007 saw the outburst of an intifada by North African immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs, followed by the unleashing of police repression. Not much later, Sarkozy instated a harsh crackdown on the Roma, ordering police to break up their camps, sparking more protests and an official censure of France by the European Commission. So what a sense of deja vu… Hollande now says his government will use “all means” necessary to restore peace after a new uprising by immigrant youth—this time centered around the northern city of Amiens—left more than a dozen police officers injured and several buildings damaged or destroyed. (LAT, Aug. 15)

And the new suburban intifada comes just as Hollande has initiated a new crackdown on the Roma—who have been getting kicked around all over Europe in recent years. At least five camps around Paris have been demolished and several hundred of their residents ordered out; others came down in Lille and Lyon. The European Commission says it is studying the situation. (AP, Aug. 15)

And once again, it looks like Jews are being set up to take the hit for the repression. Last month, after two North African youth were arrested in the beating of a Jewish youth in Lyon, Interior Minister Manuel Valls again raised the specter of a “new breed of anti-Semitism in our neighborhoods, in our suburbs.” However, a close reading of news accounts reveals that although the victim had an “identifiably Jewish appearance,” the evidence of an anti-Semitic motive stops there. A judiciary source told the AFP that so far “none of the witness statements highlighted any anti-Semitic comments.” (European Jewish Press, July 9)

We certainly aren’t dismissing the possibility that the young man was targeted because he is Jewish, but if a new wave of police repression in the immigrant suburbs of France is presented as protecting the Jews… it certainly isn’t going to be good for the Jews.


  1. French pol resigns over ‘Hitler’ remark on Roma
    So these are the “centrists” in France now. How comforting. From AFP, July 24:

    A French lawmaker who was allegedly recorded saying that Hitler “did not kill enough” Roma has resigned from his party, just days after investigators opened a criminal probe into his comment.

    The centrist Union of Democrats and Independents said Gilles Bourdouleix had resigned in a letter sent to the party headquarters on Wednesday, hours before executive committee members were due to meet to discuss his fate.

    Bourdouleix reportedly muttered the remark on Sunday as he confronted members of the travelling community who had illegally set up camp in the western town of Cholet, where he is mayor.

    According to a recording posted on the site of regional daily Courrier de l’Ouest, he is heard saying “maybe Hitler did not kill enough,” after the Roma—sometimes known as gypsies—had reportedly given him the Nazi salute.

    His comment sparked huge outrage, with Interior Minister Manuel Valls calling for the lawmaker to be “severely punished” for the comments.

    OK thanks, Valls. But meanwhile the Hollande government has apparently not called off the policy of raiding Roma camps and forcibly repatriating the inhabitants to the Balkans…