Sunday, December 02, 2007

Belgium's other crisis: urban violence

Belgium is much in the news these days, because of its unprecedented parliamentary crisis.

In the shadows of the dividing nation exists a further division, an increasingly irreconcilable chasm between civilization and anarchy... a quiet war between "youths" and police, offering grim prospects for whatever future Belgium wrestles for itself in its parliament.

What follows is one story in this daily war from one neighborhood outside Brussels, in three acts. Translated by myself, from an article collected by the diligent French news site Bafweb:

There is much talking of the tension that exists between the youths of the French banlieues and police officers… but there is not much mention made of the altercations that take place at home. A few days ago, one of these almost became dramatic. Iron bars, Molotov cocktails, gasoline cans… anything goes for beating on a cop!

Everything started on November 16, in Forest. Two motorcycle officers in the Midi zone noticed two youths on a [booster? In original]. The moment that one of the youths prepared to break a car window, the police approached. Naturally, when they spotted the police, the two thieves took flight on the booster. The motorcycle police kept up the chase.

Arriving at Saint-Antoine place, the police were literally caught in a trap by a gang of youths that had come to the rescue of the poor thieves… the police were thrown to the ground and clobbered by blows from iron bars! “The thieves managed to flee”, confirmed the police. End of the first act.

The next day, a patrol by the anti criminality brigade returns to the scene. The gang was there. “One of the youths shouted Son of a whore at the police”. Having located the young troublemaker, the officers, prudently, decided to return a little later, hoping to arrest him when he would be alone. Three hours later, the police spot the poet who is effectively alone. Feeling penned in, he set out in flight. “He began calling out to the others in Arabic.” Resulting in the gang reconstituting itself at lightning speed. The police were surrounded by raging youths…

“The police were obliged to leave given that the situation was going to degenerate, but they nevertheless were able to apprehend the youth, who resisted arrest violently.” End of the second act.

The following day, the police receive an anonymous call. “Something was being planned on a street in Saint-Antoine place.” A patrol arrived on the scene at a time when the youths were not expecting them. A piece of luck. A miracle! “When the detectives arrived, they saw six youths take flight, leaving something behind them on the ground.” The police approached, and discovered Molotov cocktails and a can of gasoline with five liters of gas. The youths awaiting the third visit from the police had prepared a surprise for them…

Despite the conclusive tone in the article's final paragraph, the story, of course, is not over.
What happens tomorrow?

1 comment:

Rob Misek said...

We may perceive social change simply because of new information that wasn't previously available.

60 years ago the first television images were broadcast. Since then world news coverage has steadily increased. Now with the internet we are communicating truth that even the news media doesn't carry.

Censorship is recently obsolete.

Closed societies (Islam, Communist)are the most threatened by this freedom of information and we are witnessing the rebellion as beliefs are challenged and changed.

In the past we needed a common enemy to bring us together to recognize a common goal. We found both during war.

With our immediate worldwide communication capability we should be able to eliminate the middleman war. Yet we just haven't made communicating the truth and peace a priority in the media.

In the absence of truth, war is the unifier of societies.