Is violence explainable?

posted by julia on 2005/11/12 15:13

[ Is violence explainable? ]

As if it was an intrinsic quality of the region and its people, the Balkans are often refered to as "pulverfass"/"powder keg" in newspaper articles, history books, novels. As if this explained anything. The recent riots in France show how difficult it is to explain violence and its escalation.

Violent riots broke out in the suburbs of several French cities since
two teenagers died electrocuted in the Parisian suburb of
Clichy-sous-Bois on October 27th, after having hid from the police in a
power station. Riots in French suburbs have been a problem for the last
20-30 years (cf. the compilation on the blog "emeute2france"),
but this time the violence has rapidly spread to the whole country and
even to neighbouring countries (Germany, Belgium). Thousands of vehicles
have been put on fire and more than 1500 people have been arrested.

On November, 8th Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin declared the
state of emergency (which has officially started on November, 9th),
which allow prefects to limit the mobility of persons and vehicles at
certain times, to impose curfews, and to define security zones to which
people cannot acceed (cf. Le Monde article on the government's response to the
riots). Villepin announced also a number of measures concerning jobs and
education (cf.
Le Monde

The website
provides an overview of the analysis published in the French
and foreign
as well as in weblogs. Authors
blaim the lack of integration, unemployment, the bad economic situation,
the government - but none of these analyses really seem satisfactory.
One of the most interesting articles is "Geld ist
nichts, Respekt ist alles"
by M. Mönninger (Die Zeit,

Was Frankreich derzeit erlebt, ist nicht allein ein Aufstand
der Rechtlosen und Unterdrückten, sondern auch eine Revolte gegen die
Republik im Namen ihrer eigenen Ideale. Denn die Halbwüchsigen haben in
der Schule gelernt, dass zu ihrem Status als Staatsbürger untrennbar die
republikanischen Versprechen von Gleichheit und Brüderlichkeit gehören.
Das nimmt die Vorstadtjugend ernster, als es vielen Franzosen recht ist.
Fast könnte man von einem Drama der gelungenen Integration sprechen, die
deswegen an ihre Grenzen stößt, weil die Nachgeborenen sich eben nicht
damit begnügen wollen, in Parallelgesellschaften

The London-based Arab daily AlQuds Al-Arabi published on November, 8th a French flag with a burning car and a afraid-desparate looking Marianne (I took the image from the website

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