French cabinet renews emergency law

France’s cabinet has approved a bill to extend the country’s state of emergency for three months to crack down on a wave of arson attacks and riots.

PM Dominique de Villepin imposed the curfew on Tuesday
PM Dominique de Villepin imposed the curfew on Tuesday

The bill must be approved by parliament.

Ministers gave a green light to the proposal during a cabinet meeting on Monday, according to the government’s report on its agenda.

“It’s a measure of protection and precaution,” President Jacques Chirac said at a cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope.

“It’s a strictly temporary measure that will only be used where it is strictly necessary.”

Civil unrest began in suburbs around major towns and cities more than two weeks ago but has lessened considerably since 8 November, when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin imposed measures including curfews for 12 days.

An overnight curfew was in force in 40 municipalities, and the authorities in the southeastern city of Lyon banned public gatherings to prevent a repeat of clashes in the historic centre.

In scattered attacks overnight on Sunday-Monday, vandals in the southern city of Toulouse rammed a car into a primary school before setting the building on fire and burned cars in northeastern Strasbourg.


In northern France, arsonists set fire to a sports centre in the suburb of Faches-Thumesnil and a school in the town of Halluin, the North regional government said.

Since the start of the unrest,2652 people have been detained

Since the start of the unrest,
2652 people have been detained

A gas canister exploded inside a burning rubbish bin in the Alpine city of Grenoble, injuring two police officers, the national police said, adding three other officers were injured elsewhere.

Since the start of the unrest, 2652 arrests have been made and 375 people have been sent to prison.

The violence in France’s dilapidated out-of-town tenement estates was sparked by the accidental death of two teenagers who hid in an electricity sub-station in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois after an encounter with police.

More than 8000 cars have been burned since, and numerous businesses and public buildings have been damaged by gangs of youths who are mainly from the country’s Arab and black minorities.

EU steps in

The disturbances are the worst in France since student riots in 1968. They have shaken the government of President Chirac, sparked a debate on the integration of immigrants and caused ripples throughout Europe.

Barroso said the EU had offered$58.5 million to tackle problems 

Barroso said the EU had offered
$58.5 million to tackle problems 

In an effort to help tackle problems in French suburbs, the European Union has offered France 50 million euros ($58.5 million), EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday in a radio interview.

The main problem behind the unrest was youth unemployment, but the challenge of integrating immigrants was shared by many European cities, he told France’s Europe 1.

“The best social politics is to create employment. That is the main thing. When you have 60% of youths unemployed in suburbs, it is a problem,” Barroso said.

An editorial in Monday’s Midi-Libre newspaper said the riots had hurt France’s image abroad.

“Even if the violence isn’t racial in origin, the crisis in the suburbs brings the failure of France’s social model … to the fore and has highlighted the country’s social sickness,” it said.


The opposition Socialists accused Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday of acting tough to increase his chances of becoming president in a 2007 election. 

Jean-Marie Le Pen called the unrest  a ‘social atomic bomb’

Jean-Marie Le Pen called the
unrest  a ‘social atomic bomb’

Sarkozy has said he will throw out foreigners caught rioting.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front party, on Sunday called the unrest a “social atomic bomb” caused by immigration and said the rioters were “Chirac’s children”.

He blamed the rioting on “uncontrolled immigration from the Third World” and, while endorsing the curfews, he described the government response as insufficient.

Le Pen, 77, was to speak at a rally of France’s National Front party in central Paris on Monday evening.

Source : News Agencies

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