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Hundreds march in French suburb one year after riots
Cat : Democracy & H-Rights
Date : 2006-10-28 17:09:02                      Reader : 334

qualified distinct jobs. They have to have be well educated as others. Unfortunately till now they feel as second class citizens.

Assoicated France Press 28/10/2006

Hundreds march in French suburb one year after riots

by Sylvie Husson
Fri Oct 27, 1:58 PM ET

CLICHY SOUS BOIS, France (AFP) - Hundreds of people marched in a silent tribute to two teenagers whose death exactly one year ago sent a wave of urban riots surging through France, sparking the country's most serious social crisis in 30 years.

French authorities were on alert for a new flare-up of violence after youth gangs, some carrying handguns, torched -- and in one case hijacked -- three buses near Paris on Wednesday, but police reported no major trouble overnight.

In Clichy-sous-Bois, the poor northeast Paris suburb where the riots erupted on October 27, 2005, around 1,000 people, most of them youngsters, filed quietly Friday morning past the spot where the two boys died.

"Once again, France and the world are watching us," the mayor of Clichy Claude Dilain told the crowd. "We need the calm, dignity and courage that are visible here to prevail. Let us show them who we really are."

"Let's not give anyone cause to point the finger at us," added local association leader Samir Mihi.

Many of the marchers wore white T-shirts printed with the words "Zyed and Bouna, Dead for nothing."

Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15, both from immigrant families of African descent, were electrocuted as they hid from a police patrol in a power sub-station.

Riots broke out in Clichy that night, quickly spreading to dozens of immigrant-populated suburbs in the Paris region and beyond.

Night after night for three weeks, youth gangs clashed with police, torching more than 10,000 cars and firebombing 300 buildings in around 275 towns, until order was officially restored on November 17.

With the approach of the anniversary, police and local mayors have warned that the conditions that led to the riots remain firmly in place in the poor out-of-town neighbourhoods, plagued by unemployment of 30 to 40 percent.

Nationwide, police were under orders to be vigilant but to keep their presence low-key, to avoid encouraging confrontations with youths, officers told AFP.

France's tough-talking Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy vowed Thursday following the bus attacks that the government would mobilize all the forces at its disposal for the security of public transport users.

On Friday, Sarkozy told reporters in southern France that "there is no anniversary" to celebrate -- saying his prime concern was for ordinary people "who do not smash things up (but) who count too."

French and international media have been scrutinising the Paris suburbs for signs of a new outbreak of violence -- despite warnings that the television cameras could spur young rioters on.

Around 60 journalists joined Friday's march in Clichy-sous-Bois, where the boys' families led mourners past their old school to inaugurate a monument in their memory.

Last year's riots -- which led the government to declare a state of emergency, a measure not enacted since the Algerian war half a century earlier -- cast an unforgiving spotlight on France's trouble in integrating its Arab-origin and black communities.

Badly shaken by the crisis, the government promised measures such as an extra 100 million euros (125 million dollars) for local associations, bigger training schemes and a crackdown on racial discrimination for jobs.

But a chorus of voices has warned of the inertia that dogs French policy towards the "banlieues," as the suburbs are known.

With six months to go to France's presidential election, the festering situation is certain to be a main campaign theme.

The opposition Socialist Party accuses Sarkozy, the centre-right presidential frontrunner, of being part of the problem because of a tough line on law and order that has made him a hate figure in the "banlieues."

Sarkozy argues that left-wing welfare policies are at the root of the crisis -- and that a liberalized economy combined with positive discrimination is the only way to provide jobs and hope.

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