The Tip of an Iceberg

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The Tip of an Iceberg
The Tip of an Iceberg

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The intensity of the violence sparked by the death of a 17-year-old young man shot by a policeman for refusal to stop in the suburb of Nanterre has rocked France and stupefied the world.

Further inquiry is likely to reveal whether it was a case of frayed nerves between a young policeman and a teenager of Algerian origin and whether the shooting was accidental or not.

France is a country where street protests are a national hobby, a tempestuous means to voice opposition, resist reforms, claim rights and force the authorities to backpedal.

A country caught off-guard: The intensity of the recent violence sparked by the death of a 17-year-old young man shot by a policeman has rocked France.

Pic – Slate The recent protest pitching suburban youths of migrant stock against the police does not fit in the picture of the Gallic rebellious temperament rising noisily against the authorities in street protests which the migrant citizens do not generally participate in and leave the French to sort out the issues with the government.

It follows the pattern of the suburban riots of 1998, 2005 and 2011, and broke out amid tense relations engendered by attacks on French citizens, vandalism of churches, drug-related gang violence among foreign-origin youngsters in the suburbs, stabbing of teenage boys and girls in the migrant population by their migrant peers in after-school quarrels in the streets.

Such violence has driven a wider wedge between the host country and its migrant population from mainly North Africa and rendered the French more rigid on identity issues. What dawns on French citizens today is the awareness that their society has become extremely polarized and violent.

A Marxist approach to issues involving the migrant population’s violence based on: class divides between haves and have-nots, sociological surveys of the legacy of colonialism in social interactions, attitudes and policies implemented by the government, no longer resonate with the public.

France has poured billions of euros in infrastructure, education, leisure, social aid for the deprived in the suburbs during the past two decades. As riots spread to Belgium (with no North African colonial history), to Switzerland and Sweden (without any colonial history at all), other questions were raised over what drives youths of migrant origin to run riot at the least isolated incident.

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