Paris Riots Reflect Social, Not Religious, Grievances

November 8, 2005

Source: The Age

On November 8, 2005 The Age reported, "The riots, described as France's worst since May 1968, have been linked to the threat of radical Islam. But both descriptions are misleading. The violent unrest is better compared to the riots that burnt down African-American ghettos across the United States in the 1960s. 'It is nothing to do with radical Islam or even Muslims,' says Olivier Roy, research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and one of the world's leading authorities on political Islam. He says that although many rioters are from Muslim backgrounds, 'these guys are building a new idea of themselves based on American street culture. It's a youth riot — they are protesting against the fact that they are supposed to be full French citizens and they are not'... Dr Roy doesn't rule out the possibility of some of the young men turning to radical Islam. Some militant Muslims are using the riots as a recruiting tool, while others are trying to play a mediating role. But so far the differences between the young men and the religious radicals is too great, says Dr Roy. 'Radical Islam asks these guys to give up their lives dealing drugs and going to nightclubs. Many of these guys don't want to do that. They want to have cars and girls and smoke hashish.'"