Thursday, November 10, 2005

'We'll definitely win,' French teen says

A reporter from Ha'aretz went to speak to some of the rioting French youths. He says, first of all, "There is something odd about the events that have been occuring in France since October 27, especially if your only source of information is media reports: The French government is dispatching helicopters and elite units, thousands of police officers, imposing curfews and even contemplating deploying the army - against wild kids aged 13 or 14 who, because they have nothing to do at night, are torching cars."

The two boys he spoke to (apparently in their late teens) have completely failed to find work (even with much trying) after leaving school.
Both have been unemployed since leaving school, not for lack of trying. They send off their resume, go to interviews, are perennially rejected. The main reason they can't find work, they believe, is their address - nobody wants to hire youths from 93 (the administrative code for their province) - but also their ethnic origin. Mohammed has a white friend from the projects who also dropped out of school and came with him to a job interview: The friend was hired.

Their complaint is not abstract: The nearest employment center is far away, and they want a local one in Villepeinte.

What does Mohammed mean when he says they will win in the end? "To win is work and respect," he says.

It certainly sounds from stories like these that people who interpret the riots as being plotted by Islamists are wrong. These are young men who don't want to be separate from French society - they want work and respect.

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