The riots of Paris: a much abused community fights back

The riots in Paris, sparked by the deaths of two African teens and fueled by longstanding racism, xenophobia, and tensions, rage on. It is frightening to watch it happen through the lens of the media, and angering to know that little is likely to be done to address the real oppression, the real discrimination, the real problems at the root of the conflicts. Instead, I worry, the French government and people may respond with further xenophobia, racism, and police crackdowns on African youth and immigrant communities in general.

Black Looks, the blog of an African fem living in Spain, gives us rare, thorough, and nuanced account of the riots. She points out the problems of the portrayals in the blogosphere and the mainstream media of the riots and the communities involved. I highly recommend reading what she’s written, because it’s definitely given me a better understanding of what’s been going on, one that certainly cannot be found in the US mainstream media – when it decides to cover this at all. Two friends heard about the rioting only yesterday, and these are not people who try to avoid news coverage of this sort of thing.

Owukori of Black Looks also describes how the riots are being portrayed as being driven by Islamic fundamentalists, as is further discussed in this Reuters article. Because, obviously, every time a community that includes Muslims lashes out against injustice, it’s not because of the long oppression that they’ve endured, it’s because they’re crazy radical Islamists! Ugh. Is it so far fetched that a community so maligned might be driven to the edge, especially its youths? And even if some “Islamic fundamentalists” are involved, is it possible for people to reflect that Muslims might have very good reason to react with anger towards the French government and other Western governments? Instead, we’re left with governments, media and societies that immediately lump all Muslims together as “radicals” and “terrorists” driven by religious rage, not by rage against a system that works hard to marginalize, stigmatize, and discriminate against them.

Almost as an aside, I found this bit from the Reuters article to be striking:

Ahmed Hamidi, a white-bearded Moroccan electrician long resident in France, had no patience with politicians in Paris, which lies hardly an hour away but seems like another planet.

“All the politicians care about are laws for homosexuals and all those immoral things,” he fumed. “They are against headscarves, against beards and against the mosques.

First thought/gut reaction: ugh. Second thought: I can’t imagine that attitudes towards queer folks in certain communities are made any better when governments do right by them, but then don’t do right by those communities. Until all are free…

2 Responses to “The riots of Paris: a much abused community fights back”

  1. 1 owukori

    I am not a Muslim and have no investment in that religion whatsoever and also recognise the homophobia that exists within it. Nevertheless the West has so demonised Islam and Muslims that they are left with few choices of where to turn and that is not good for any of us. We are ALL being suffocated here.

  2. 2 Jack


Comments are currently closed.