Thursday, October 05, 2006
In France, suburbs are called banlieue, and they are not where the affluent go because the public schools are better. They are where the French build housing projects, and in recent years many of those have filled up with Muslims. From the sounds of it, the Muslims are pushing out the authorities:
Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.
As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin.
It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.
The number of attacks has risen by a third in two years. Police representatives told the newspaper Le Figaro that the "taboo" of attacking officers on patrol has been broken.
As Tim Blair implies, 2,500 sure sounds like a lot of gendarmes down. The article does not, however, say -- as Tim Blair suggests -- that all 2,500 injuries come from conflict with youths in housing estates, only that that many French coppers had been injured so far this year. If we assume those figures are YTD September, we could expect about 3,300 police injuries for the year for the entire country. Is that a lot, or a little? Well, around 16,500 American law enforcement officers are injured every year. Since the United States has just about five times the population of France, it looks as though American cops are wounded at almost exactly the rate of French cops, this at a time when American crime rates are at multi-decade lows. So while the whole business may come as quite a shock to the French who are used to thinking that their egalitarianism has driven the violence out of their society, they are really just catching up. This is not to say that the Muslims of France are not stirring up a heap of trouble or that it can't get much worse, only that being a French police officer just isn't that dangerous.