EU: Time for some ultra-violence as officials now admit it has taken on a Islamic militant "tinge" and they are getting more organized this time around.
|PARIS (Reuters) - French police and youths clashed in a Paris suburb on Sunday as tensions mounted ahead of the anniversary of riots last year that shocked the country and provoked renewed debate about the integration of immigrants.
A police spokesman said 30 to 50 individuals were involved in the clashes in Grigny south of Paris that started after youths set several cars on fire and torching a bus after ordering its passengers off.
"There are still some sporadic incidents, mostly stone throwing," he said.
In a statement, the Action Police CFTC police union urged the government to deploy "a visible and large number" of riot police to discourage youths from constantly attacking patrols.
In recent days police patrols in a number of towns across the country have been attacked by petrol bombs.
"This latest clash marks the progressive start of a repeat of the riots of November 2005," the statement said, referring to the incident in Grigny.|
|Ethnic integration and violence against police are both becoming issues in the campaign for the French presidency. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the leading contender on the right, said this month that those who do not love France do not have to stay, echoing a longtime slogan of the extreme-right National Front: "France, love it or leave it."
Michel Thooris, head of the small Action Police union, claims that the new violence is taking on an Islamic fundamentalist tinge.
"Many youths, many arsonists, many vandals behind the violence do it to cries of 'Allah Akbar' (God is Great) when our police cars are stoned," he said in an interview.
Larger, more mainstream police unions sharply disagree that the suburban unrest has any religious basis. However, they do say that some youth gangs no longer seem content to throw stones or torch cars and instead appear determined to hurt police officers _ or worse.
"First, it was a rock here or there. Then it was rocks by the dozen. Now, they're leading operations of an almost military sort to trap us," said Loic Lecouplier, a police union official in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris. "These are acts of war."
National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted _ and some now receive police escorts in such areas.|