L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

08 February 2008 Blog Home : February 2008 : Permalink

Sarko Deploys the Kärcher

cleaning up the 'burbsHe may have surrendered to the taxi drivers, but Sarkozy is not going to surrender to everyone. Today he (finally) got around to delivering his plan for fixing the suburbs. These sinkholes of crime and unemployment got him into trouble with the elite when he talked about deploying a "Kärcher" and getting rid of the "racaille" (scum) in late 2005 but his words then certainly played well with a significant proportion of France. His tough response then was certainly part of the reason why he became president; unlike Vile Pin, Sarko had no truck with the "it's our fault they are rioting" pandering that emanated from the bien-pensants in the capital and it was always understood that when he became president he would act to try and fix them.

As AP reports, his plan has two prongs. One is a €500 million investment in aid for the estates over 5 years (and where precisiely is the money to come from we wonder?), the other is a massive increase in security with new patrols, 4000 more police, more police stations and a "guerre sans merci" on the drug traffickers and other criminals that infest them. The security increase is to start now in the Seine-St-Denis department northwest of Paris, which could certainly do with the investment and security. This department, colloquially "Le neuf-trois", was the place where the 2005 riots were "sparked off" and is the one that tourists arriving in France at Charles de Gaulle airport must pass though to get to Paris. Today this journey, in my opinion, is about as unwelcoming a view of Paris as one could hope to get - particularly if one takes the RER rail service, and even more so if you are unlucky enough to catch a graffitied train that stops at various intermediate stations, all of which combine a certain run-down 1970s brutalism with an air of menace from the lounging youths that frequent them. 

However Sarko isn't just throwing money and policemen at the suburbs. He is also addressing the problems of (non)integration of the second and third generation immigrants by looking a bussing children across suburbs so that they mix and is promising to stamp out the hidden racism that means that it is far harder for people with certain names or addresses to get jobs. I don't quite understand how he intends to do this, but I wish him luck because if he really can break the barriers down then he will have fixed one of the major blemishes on French society today.

At the bottom of this AFP report (in French) there are currently 5 related articles.
If you can read French it is well worth reading all 5 to learn more. My rough translation of the headlines is:
The first three are fairly straightforward. The last two perhaps not. The league table shows which towns are meeting their statutory requirements to provide a certain percentage of social housing and which aren't - in other words which towns that don't have any ghettoes are busily making sure they. Fadela Amara, the minister responsible for urban areas, is the lady who founded "Ni Putes, Ni Soumises" and is a sign of the inclusiveness Sarkozy clearly hopes for since she is of Algerian parentage and was a socialist councilor. Whether Ms Amara is worth of Sarko's trust is another matter, it is unclear to me whether she is actually any good at creating or implementing policy although she is certainly very good at pointing out injustice and hypocrisy.