Saturday, April 18, 11 pm. Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a small town in the northern suburbs of Paris. A young man rides a motorcycle at high speed and hits the door of a police car. He breaks his leg. He is sent to the hospital. He does not have a driver's license but does have a long criminal history. He was sentenced several times by the courts for drug trafficking, robbery with violence and sexual assault.
As soon as news of the accident is released, hostile messages about the police circulate on social media; and in a dozen cities in France, riots break out. The riots are continue for five days in a row. A police station in Strasbourg is attacked and set on fire. A school is nearly destroyed a few miles from Villeneuve-la-Garenne.
Rather than responding with firm language, the French government is saying that an investigation into the behavior of the police has been opened and that the officers will most likely be punished.
The coronavirus pandemic, which struck France hard, has been aggravating the serious problems already plaguing the country.
France's general population remains under extremely strict lockdown; the police have been ordered to enforce the rules ruthlessly. Permits to leave one's home were limited to 60 minutes, once a day, and no farther than half a mile. On Aril 23, Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner said, "Since the start of the lockdown, more than 915,000 citations have been handed out; 15.5 million persons have been stopped and checked". The citations, according to newspapers, were given to people who stayed outside for more than an hour, or who went beyond the authorized limits.
People living in no-go zones [zones-urbaines-sensibles"sensitive urban zones"] are treated differently. Police officers have been told by the government not to stop them at all and to avoid as much as possible going near where they live.
"The choice of the government is easy to explain," he said. "The police would not have the materiel or the manpower to calm a large uprising". He compared the current condition to riots in October 2005,and added that the situation in France today is quite different.
The situation in France today is quite different. It is worse. In 2005, no-go zones existed, but they were not numerous -- fewer than a hundred -- and were located in the suburbs of the largest cities in the country. The police could still enter them; gangs and radical Islamist imams did not yet control them. Today, there are more than 750 no-go zones in France, and police enter them only by carefully preparing commando-like operations beforehand. Gangs and radical imams seem totally in control.
In 2005, the riots had begun with the death of two young men. They had been trying to escape from the police and taken refuge in an electric-power substation where unfortunately they were electrocuted. Today, a simple traffic accident involving the police can lead to nights of destruction and looting.
In 2005, the police tried to quell the riots, unsuccessfully. For three weeks, the country seemed on the verge of a civil war. Today, because members of the government seem to believe that if riots occur, a civil war really could happen, the police are asked not to intervene and to stand aside until the destruction stops.…In 2005, the people living in no-go zones were hostile to France. Today, their hostility has increased.
A few months ago, a police officer, Noam Anouar, who infiltrated Islamist circles, published a book, France Must Know. No-go zones in France, he wrote, are now foreign enclaves on French territory."The gangs operating there," he noted, "have formed a parallel economy based on drug trafficking."
"They consider themselves at war with France and with Western civilization. They act in cooperation with Islamist organizations, and define acts of predation and rampage as raids against infidels".
For years, successive French governments have chosen a policy of "willful blindness": they simply behave as if they do not see what is going on. They do not even try to find solutions.