Saturday, October 06, 2007

France tv: Speak no evil, just chat with it

Like muggings and petty theft, car burnings remain so common in France that it is no longer news-worthy to talk about them. A colleague of mine was surprised to hear, and somewhat dubious of, the ongoing reality that cars continue to be torched throughout France’s suburbs, because “it’s not on tv anymore”. Then it can’t be happening, right? If it’s not on television it isn’t happening.

This week the French municipality of Saint-Dizier saw a particularly rough non-event take place..: [my translation of the yahoo/france account]

Calm returned Friday to the sensitive neighborhood of Vert-Bois in Saint-Dizier (Haute-Marne), the day after violent acts committed by forty to fifty hooded youths against police and firefighters.

A first report attests to “two persons lightly wounded: a police officer suffered cuts caused by shattered glass and a firefighter was hit in the arm with by a lead pipe”, Guillaume Audebaud, director of the cabinet of the prefect of Haute-Marne. Elsewhere, "16 vehicles were burned, 19 others damaged by blows from baseball bats or metal bars."

“No arrests have taken place. The 30 or 40 youths acted very quickly and priority was given to protect people and property”, M. Audebaud added. CRS [riot police] reinforcements arrived from Reims (Marne) for a few days, and minister of the interior Michèle Alliot-Marie arrived on the scene mid-day.

Cautious about causes for the violence, which she condemned, the minister judged [it] “important to put all the people around a table so that each could express their point of view. Security is not the responsibility of a single individual. Responsibility is a chain which includes everyone”, she said, citing education, the municipalities, associations, police, fire department and justice.

“All must be [brought] together to discuss this between themselves. There are occasionally a certain number of things, solutions that deserve to be heard”, or “to be experimented with”, she added, without clarifying.

Thursday night, 40 or 50 hooded youths attacked two police and firefighter vehicles that were intevening to put out a fire in the Vert-Bois neighborhood. In breaking windshields and windows of the vehicles and threatening the few police and firefighters on site, the hooded youths made them flee.

They [the "youths"] then set sixteen vehicles in the neighborhood ablaze, overturned others and committed other acts of destruction. Notably, they set fire to the Vert-Bois House for youth and culture, after having vandalized it, breaking doors and windows. …
Minister Audebaud’s suggestion to sit down and listen to solutions proposed by people who attack firefighters with metal bars might sound sensible to a community choosing to name a boulevard after Salvador Allende, of all people. Will the tax-paying citizens whose cars are being destroyed also be invited to participate? I wonder what "solutions" they'd be interested in seeing "experimented" with...
They don't get much face time on television, whether it's french tv or ours, but there does exist a number of french citizens who would extend the minister's "chain of responsbility" to include the actual vandals who attack firefighters summoned to thwart the plans of the "young" arsonists. We at Covenant Zone know, because we met them when they came to our meeting last summer, and from reading and writing to them in France.

Meanwhile, a glimpse into what minister Audebaud’s tabled discussions might look like, courtesy of television station France 3. The station recently decided to give a platform to the two “youths” (one 24, the other 30, by the way) who assaulted politician Marine Le Pen, daughter and heir apparent to the Front National party, during a visit to Hénin in late September. According to some witnesses, there was a gun involved in the altercation. The suspects were said to be known to the police, according to people working in the area. None of this seemed to weigh on the mind of the state-supported television station who arranged to broadcast "their side" of their verbal and physical assault of a sitting member of the European Parliament.

Some (translated) context for their appearance provided by @rrêt Sur Images:

While authorities assured they were “actively” searching for them, two young men
suspected of insulting and assaulting Marine Le Pen chose to defend themselves... before the cameras of France 3 Nord Pas-de-Calais.
They appeared blurred out in a report broadcast Tuesday over France 3, in the office of their lawyer, defending themselves from having used a gun during the
altercation with the frontist candidate, on [Saturday] Sept 22 in Hénin-Beaumont.

The interview had taken place on Friday Sept 28. ...
M. Wallerand de Saint Just, lawyer for Marine Le Pen, said he was “surprised” before so much complacency on the part of the journalists, who, “in providing a voice for these two youths, topple Mme Le Pen from a status of victim to a status of aggressor.” “My client’s version of events is publicly put in doubt. These people parade through the city, on television while they should be being arrested, this is a first” the lawyer said, stunned. And he added, ironically: “If the journalists could find them, one may suppose that the police with succeed in doing so as well…”

Here are the suspects own account of their assault on Marine Le Pen. (Very hard to penetrate their accent, but hopefully this remains a fair and accurate translation)

“(0:38)…we went to have a coffee, we crossed paths with Marine Le Pen, but more so with her bodyguards and entourage. There was heat, insults, but nothing like what she was suggesting. Well, eventually there were words of profanity, and gross insults a bit too vulgar, but otherwise we said what we wanted to say in a manner of expression, in the manner in which we express ourselves, so, there you are, nothing more than that.”
It's not wrong, it's just their way of doing things, you see. Give them a seat at the table, at the expense of the value judgements of good and evil, which built the table in the first place, elevating us above the floor of an animal kingdom that has no "violence"... just natural behavior.
UPDATE: Arrests have been made in the Saint-Dizier case.

No comments: