Monday, November 07, 2005

Le Monde Coverage

Welcome to my blog! Although you can see this is not normally the focus of my writing (haha) I have decided to put my degree to some use! So I'm helping with coverage of the French rioting. I will work on these articles as I have time. Here is the lead article from Le Monde.

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Following 12 days of what he called “unacceptable and inexcusable rioting,” Dominique de Villepin appeared Monday night on TF1 to present his “emergency measures.” He promised that the state’s response would be “firm and fair.” The prime minister emphasized that if necessary, a curfew would be instituted in sensitive areas. He also announced the strengthening of an aid package to voluntary associations covering three areas: education, unemployment/welfare, and housing. He further specified that prefects will be able to impose a curfew in their districts as soon as Wednesday morning following announcement in the Journal official.

Strengthening the police force

Responding to questions about how the violence took root (namely the death of two teenagers who, believing they were being pursued by the police, hid themselves in an electrical transformer; and, the throwing of teargas bombs in front of the mosque in Clichy-sous-Bois), the prime minister promised transparency with regard to the investigation. He also affirmed that at no time was any mosque targeted by members of the police force. According to him, “criminal networks are strengthening the disorder,” in the suburbs, but these are also the result of youth “broken off from society.” He called for parents to be responsible so that “calm may return.” Asked if islamist extremists were at the root of these problems, the prime minister responded, “today, that is not at the heart of the matter.”

The head of government announced that the number of policemen would be raised from 8,000 to 9,500, following a decision to send 1,500 extra reservists.

The prime minister announced the Jacques Chirac has called a special meeting of his ministers Tuesday morning treating the application of a curfew “wherever necessary,” activating provisions of the 1955 law. “Prefects will be able, under the authority of the interior minister, to apply the curfew if they find it useful to allow calm to return and to assure the protection of residents. They prefects will determine which areas are most sensitive where they judge such a measure to be necessary.” He said the use of the armed forces is premature, but regarding the creation of city citizen committees, he allows that “all those who are able to bring calm are useful.”

Funding for Associations

Dominique de Villepin also announced that his government would restore financial contributions to associations in recent difficulty. He said the situation necessitates strengthening local authorities who would then serve as the orchestrators of dialogue in sensitive areas.

The prime minister then detailed his “three big priorities”. First, education in the republic should be a priority, he said, evoking the 15,000 truants in France. He proposes apprenticeships at age 14 instead of 16 for those children who have more scholastic difficulty; to triple funding for existing scholarship programs; and, to create Internships of Excellence and the like which would put in place a mentorship program between the “Grandes Ecoles” and secondary schools.

Concerning employment, the prime minister noted that unemployment affects nearly 40% of the young people in certain neighborhoods. He called on the ANPE and local employment missions to receive the unemployed in urban sensitive zones to offer them a job or an apprenticeship three months hence.

With regard to housing, he referred to existing programs and expressed a wish that current waitlists be reduced to 18 months. Mr. De Villepin said that “we cannot turn a blind eye to discrimination,” and called on everyone to make an effort. In conclusion he reminded listeners that the Republic, “is made up of rights, but also duties,” and called for a Republic that would show “brotherhood, hospitality, and where everyone is respected for who he is.”

“With the Borloo plan for urban revitalization we have begun a remarkable work,” he affirmed, specifying that the program “destroys or rehabilitates buildings and reconstructs more human spaces.” He estimates that waitlists can be reduced to 18 months and expressed a wish that the government can “multiply this type of effort.”

The prime minister Dominique de Villepin announced Monday on TF1 that he wanted to give a proper sanctioning power to the high authority of the war on discrimination and for equality (HALDE). This organization, created by the law of 31 December 2005 and signed by President Chirac on June 23, does not currently have sanctioning authority. However, it authorizes seizure and subpoena of documents. Its purpose is to aid victims of discrimination for racism, religious intolerance, sexism, homophobia, or physical disability. HALDE’s president is Mr. Louis Schweitzer, former CEO of Renault.

Changing Behaviors

He called on everyone to “change their behavior and their judgments” in order to end discrimination. “I have spoken with a large number of youth. Each one expresses the same suffering, the feeling of being singled out, to not have the same opportunities, of being different,” he said. “There are many state programs, the creation of a High authority on the war against discrimination and for equality to which we are trying to give a proper sanctioning authority,” he confirmed. “There are businesses adopting diversity policies in order to provide employment for these youth. But it is also the responsibility of everyone to change our behavior and our judgments. We should collectively measure this problem which is at the heart of our nation,” underlined the chief of government. “I say this to all: the Republic is composed of rights and duties. And when we see the pictures we’re seeing, these duties are not being respected. All those who are in the Republic, regardless of their age have duties vis-à-vis the Nation and the Republic, a brotherly Republic which unites and welcomes, but also a Republic which must be respected, where everyone is respected for what he is.”

FIN