Fire in the underbelly

Written by Harsh Kapoor | Published on: December 1, 2005


The riots have ended up providing a powerful political launching pad for the extreme right groups in France. There will be a renewed wave of racism and who knows what else in store for the upcoming election. This rise of the far right stock will inevitably fire up their lookalikes from the ‘enemy’ camp. Let’s wait for the next riots.

Sections from women’s rights circles (such as UFAL, Coordination Féministe et Laïque, 20 ans barakat, Ni Putes Ni Soumises) spoke up against this round of violence in the poor neighbourhoods, and this will undoubtedly fuel more violence against women and repression by the state. These groups very courageously also challenged the despicable move by the French authorities to turn to the so-called ‘grands frères’ or ‘big brothers’ within the ‘communities’ to restrain the younger ones. These big brother-type figures, who have been acting as increasingly visible local power centres in the patriarchal system of social, ‘moral’ control over young women and men, need to be restrained themselves. The French state would be dangerously shirking its responsibility by denying citizens protection, when necessary, from these family/community watchdogs.

It is absolutely vital that wider (non-local) social initiatives and movements in France connect with and support the smaller local molecular civil society efforts in the poor suburbs to organise on daily matters of citizenship rights, discrimination, violence, bread and butter with a secular content. Those pushing for a politicised religion-based and sectarian/communal/nationalist agenda in the poor neighbourhoods can’t be kept out if concerned citizens’ groups/actors don’t take heed. And then there will be more violence.

Archived from Communalism Combat, December 2005 Year 12    No.113, Special Report