FRANCE yesterday ordered a ban on public meetings likely to provoke disturbances as thousands of police were deployed on the streets of Paris to stop youths turning the tourist centre into a battlefield.
The initiative came as speculation mounted over a severely discredited Jacques Chirac?s ability to endure the last 17 months of his presidential term.
Ringleaders of the riots that have shaken France for the past two weeks were suspected of planning to set ablaze the affluent Champs Elys?es. Through text and internet messages they were encouraging followers armed with Molotov cocktails to converge on the tree-lined tourist haunt just a stone?s throw from Chirac?s palace.
The violence, which started just over two weeks ago in poor suburbs, has fallen in intensity since the government announced emergency measures on Tuesday. Lyons witnessed the first riot in a major city centre yesterday, but police quickly took control by firing tear gas.
Across the country, 130 cars were torched before midnight and police made 41 arrests. Arsonists burnt down an electronics store on the fringes of Toulouse and a school in the southern town of Carpentras. A riot policeman was injured by a metal ball thrown from an apartment block in a Paris suburb.
On Friday night 502 vehicles were set ablaze, the highest total for three days, and 206 people were arrested. In Carpentras, two fire bombs were hurled at a mosque.
Sure sounds like the riots are dissipating huh?
Central Paris has largely escaped the worst civil unrest in France since the student protests of 1968 but Chirac?s response to the mayhem engulfing the country has been widely condemned. He has said virtually nothing about it, heightening perceptions of him as a politically irrelevant figure.
He looked pale and deflated on Thursday in a rare public appearance, prompting rumours that the blood vessel problem for which he was hospitalised for a week in September ? some described it as a mild stroke ? might have inflicted more damage than previously acknowledged.
The 72-year-old head of state has been off balance ever since voters defied him by rejecting the European Union constitution in May. Even his lieutenants in the centre-right governing team seemed to be putting the boot in. ?Chirac looks stunned, almost overtaken by events,? Jean-Louis Debr?, president of the national assembly, was quoted as saying.
Chirac, a veteran of countless political battles, baffled his opponents by leaving it to a spokesman to announce the revival of a state of emergency law to quell the unrest.
His few defenders said Chirac was simply following a tradition among French presidents who like to hover loftily above the political fray. A less charitable interpretation was that he had become hopelessly out of touch.
On Thursday he made a rare admission of failure by accepting that the government had not acted quickly enough in tackling racial discrimination.
I gotta tell ya, Chirac isn’t losing it. He has LOST it already. This article makes it sound like Chirac was a good leader at one point, give me a break. He has been a joke to the world since he came into power and is a joke leaving.
This my friends is the end result of Socialism. They no longer have a national identity or even any pride in their country. They get leaders who are nothing but leftists clowns who bash America to gain popularity in their communities. They let immigrants into their country who refuse to assimilate (sound familiar?) and then give them everything that their heart desires. I mean these people we’re getting up to 75% of their last paycheck in welfare assistence! Why even work?
Isn’t Socialism swell?
Can you imagine what the MSM and the Democrats would have been calling this if we had 17 days of riots and 300 cities burning in our country? A complete Bush failure. But the French are now just getting around to blaming Chirac? Wtf is that?