Timeline: Paris riots

As France struggled to find ways to end night-time rioting which has raged around Paris’s suburbs for a week, here is a timeline of the troubles.

Police clashed with angry youths for the seventh straight night

Wednesday, 19 October:

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who harbours presidential ambitions, declares a “war without mercy” on violence in the suburbs.

“I’ve said they have to be cleaned – we’re going to make them as clean as a whistle,” he tells regional police chiefs.

Tuesday, 25 October:

During a highly publicised visit to Argenteuil, a suburb northwest of the capital, Sarkozy is pelted with stones and bottles as he outlines a new plan to root out crime from the neighbourhood. He describes rebellious youths in such districts as “rabble”.

Thursday, 27 October:

Two teenagers, Banou, a 15-year-old of Malian background, and Ziad, a 17-year-old of Tunisian origin, flee a police identity check in the northeast suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

They scale the wall of an electrical relay station and are electrocuted as they try to hide near a transformer.

Youths in the suburb, hearing of the deaths, go on a rampage, burning 23 vehicles and vandalising buildings.

Hundreds of riot police are targeted by bottles and stones.

The violence tails off some four hours later.

Friday, 28 October:

Four hundred youths clash with outnumbered police in Clichy-sous-Bois, throwing stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails. Twenty-three officers are hurt and their colleagues are forced to fire rubber bullets to push back mobs.

A real bullet is fired at a riot police van without causing injury.
Thirteen people are arrested and 29 vehicles are burned.

Saturday, 29 October:

Five hundred people hold a silent march through Clichy-sous-Bois in memory of the dead teenagers.

Violence resumes at night.

Reinforced police squads encounter no big hostile crowds of youths, but 20 vehicles are burned.

Nine people are detained, some of them for carrying hammers or petrol cans.

Sunday, 30 October

The opposition Socialist Party says “the violence is getting worse day by day”.

Clashes occur on the outskirts of Clichy-sous-Bois, resulting in six police officers being hurt, 11 people being arrested and eight vehicles being torched.

A police teargas grenade hits a mosque, prompting anger among the suburb’s large Muslim community.

Monday, 31 October:

The main police union describes the riots as “guerrilla” violence and urges politicians to avoid “putting fuel on the fire” by scoring points against each other.

Sarkozy says his “determination is absolute” to put down the riots.

The families of the two dead teenagers refuse to meet him, saying he is “very incompetent”.

Running clashes between youths and police take place in Clichy-sous-Bois and in surrounding suburbs. Nineteen people are arrested and 68 vehicles are torched.

Tuesday, 1 November:

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin meets the families of the dead teenagers, and invites Sarkozy along.

He promises a full investigation into the deaths.

A junior minister in charge of equal opportunities, Azouz Begag, criticises Sarkozy’s tough rhetoric and habit of going to poor neighbourhoods with media in tow.

Riots and clashes erupt in several other suburbs to the north and west of Paris, though the situation in Clichy-sous-Bois itself is calmer.

Altogether, 180 vehicles are torched and 34 people arrested.

Wednesday, 2 November:

President Jacques Chirac issues his first public comment on the riots.

“Tempers must calm down,” he says, warning “an escalation of disrespectful behaviour would lead to a dangerous situation.”

Villepin and Sarkozy cancel overseas trips to deal with the spreading violence.

Night-time clashes take place in at least nine suburban towns north, east and west of Paris.

At least 40 vehicles are torched and 15 people arrested. Two  shots are fired at police without causing injury.

A police station is ransacked, a garage is set fire to and a shopping centre and two schools are vandalised.

Thursday, 3 November: 

For the first time, the riots spread to other parts of the country, to Dijon, Marseille and Normandy, and inside the capital itself.


More than 500 vehicles and several businesses are set on fire, and 78 people arrested in the Paris area.


The government of President Jacques Chirac is wavering between the “zero tolerance” policies of the hardline Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and calls for a more conciliatory approach to take account of the rioters’ grievances.


Marine Le Pen, daughter of extreme-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and deputy leader of his National Front party, calls for a state of emergency to be declared in the worst-hit areas.


Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe of the opposition Socialist Party warns against hasty conclusions being made “between one religion, Islam, and a few extremists” and the range of criminal networks in the down-trodden suburbs.

Source: AFP