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What's wrong with France?

Leonardo Rocha | 09:27 UK time, Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The latest claim from the French police is shocking: "we're dealing with an urban guerrilla tactic, with the use of conventional arms and hunting rifles".

They're talking about Paris. Yes, I know, the suburbs, or banlieue, but still Paris.

High unemployment, strikes, gangs, violence, angry disaffected young people: what's wrong with France?


Another night of violent clashes, looting, shops and cars set on fire. This time not only in Villiers-le-Bel, where it all started, but also in other Parisian suburbs and Tolouse, in the south.

What do you think can be done? Is this something we should talk about today? Send us your views, post here on the blog.

Only last week, we were talking about a transport strike that cost the country 400 million euros a day.

President Nicolas Sarkozy survived the strike -- his first real challenge in power. But how will he deal with the latest violence?

He was France's Interior Minister two years ago, when the first wave of violence erupted in the impovireshed suburbs of Paris.

His strong comments at the time made him a much hated figure in those areas. But he went on to win the election.


It all started, then, with the accidental deaths of two young men in Clichy-sous-Bois.

A lot was talked about sice about the lack of integration in French society for immigrants and the children of immigrants.

Things don't seem to have changed much.

Two years ago, I said that it would just take a spark for France to blow up. I'm not saying nothing has been done since then, but nothing to the scale it should have.

Claude Dilain, Mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois

What has changed in France since October 2005? Is it time for big change in France, in work relations, in the economy, in the police?

Or is this a localized problem that will go if Sarkozy hold firm and challenge the rioters?

You can’t expect things to have changed in two years when the root of the problem goes back 30 years, to when France parked difficult people in estates.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, Mayor of Drancy

Let us know what you think, post on the blog or send us an email.


Moving on to less mundane issues: Philip Pullman, the (atheist) author and the new controversy involving the Catholic Church.

The peg here is the premiere last night of the Golden Compass, a film based on the first novel of Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials.

It features big screen stars Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. It will open in the US next week and the Catholic League in the US has been calling for a boycott.

The reason: Pullman's rejection of organised religion.

Much of what was on the book was left out of the film, but there's still criticism.


The fact that this is a film for children and teenagers has led to accusations of anti-religious (or anti-Catholic) indoctrination.

Lots of blogs are talking about this. The problem is all this talk is lending the film and the book extra publicity.

Is Philip Pullman guilty of indoctrinating children against the existence of God?

Karnie has just sent me a very interesting link where Pullman expresses his views on religion, Christianity, faith. Worth checking before you make up your mind.

Send us your comments, post here on the blog or send us an email

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