2005 civil unrest in France
The 2005 civil unrest in France of October and November (in French Les émeutes des banlieues de 2005) was a series of riots by Muslim, Arab and North African immigrants in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities, involving mainly the burning of cars and public buildings at night starting on 27 October 2005 in Clichy-sous-Bois. Events spread to poor housing projects (the cités HLM) in various parts of France. A state of emergency was declared on 8 November 2005. It was extended for three months on 16 November by the Parliament.
Triggering event 
Citing two police investigations, The New York Times reported that the incident began at 17:20 on Thursday, 27 October 2005 in Clichy-sous-Bois when police were called to a construction site to investigate a possible break-in. Three teenagers, thinking they were being chased by the police, climbed a wall to hide in a power substation. Six youths were detained by 17:50. During questioning at the police station in Livry-Gargan at 18:12, blackouts occurred at the station and in nearby areas. These were caused, police say, by the electrocution of two boys, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré; a third boy, Muhittin Altun, suffered electric shock injury from the power substation they were hiding in.
"According to statements by Mr. Altun, who remains hospitalized with injuries, a group of ten or so friends had been playing football on a nearby field and were returning home when they saw the police patrol. They all fled in different directions to avoid the lengthy questioning that youths in the housing projects say they often face from the police. They say they are required to present identity papers and can be held as long as four hours at the police station, and sometimes their parents must come before the police will release them." - NY Times
There is controversy over whether the teens were actually being chased. The local prosecutor, François Molins, said that although they believed so, the police were actually after other suspects attempting to avoid an identity check. Molins and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy maintained that the dead teenagers had not been "physically pursued" by the police. This is disputed by some: The Australian reports, "Despite denials by police officials and Sarkozy and de Villepin, friends of the boys said they were being pursued by police after a false accusation of burglary and that they "feared interrogation".
This event ignited pre-existing tensions. Protesters told The Associated Press the unrest was an expression of frustration with high unemployment and police harassment and brutality. "People are joining together to say we've had enough", said one protester. "We live in ghettos. Everyone lives in fear." The rioters' suburbs are also home to a large, mostly North African, immigrant population, allegedly adding religious tensions, which some right-wing commentators believed contribute further to such frustrations. However, according to Pascal Mailhos, head of the Renseignements Généraux (French intelligence agency) radical Islamism had no influence over the 2005 civil unrest in France.
While tension had been building among the juvenile population in France, action was not taken until the reopening of schools in Autumn, since most of the French population is on holiday during the late summer months. However, on October 27th 2005, in Clichy-sous-Bois, late in the afternoon, about ten Clichois came back on foot from the stadium, where they spent the afternoon playing football. Along the way, they walked near a big building site. A local resident reported an attempted robbery near the construction site to police which then sent a car. The national police tried to arrest six French youths of African or North African origin: four in the Vincent Auriol park and two others in the cemetery which adjoins the electrical substation EDF (Electricité de France) where three others who escaped took refuge - Bouna Traoré ( 15 years), Zyed Benna ( 17 years), and Muhittin Altun ( 17 years). Trying to hide in the electrical substation, Bouna Traoré and Zyed Benna died by electrocution. The third, Muhittin Altun, was seriously burned, but recovered and returned to the district. Shortly after this tragedy, riots began. Initially confined to the Paris area, the unrest subsequently spread to other areas of the Île-de-France région, and spread through the outskirts of France's urban areas, also affecting some rural areas. After 3 November it spread to other cities in France, affecting all 15 of the large aires urbaines in the country. Thousands of vehicles were burned, and at least one person was killed by the rioters. Close to 2900 rioters were arrested.
On 8 November, President Jacques Chirac declared a state of emergency effective at midnight. Despite the new regulations, riots continued, though on a reduced scale, the following two nights, and again worsened the third night. On 9 November and the morning of 10 November a school was burned in Belfort, and there was violence in Toulouse, Lille, Strasbourg, Marseille, and Lyon.
On 10 November and the morning of 11 November, violence increased overnight in the Paris region, and there were still a number of police wounded across the country. According to the Interior Minister, violence, arson, and attacks on police worsened on the 11th and morning of the 12th, and there were further attacks on power stations, causing a blackout in the northern part of Amiens.
Rioting took place in the city center of Lyon on Saturday, 12 November, as young people attacked cars and threw rocks at riot police who responded with tear gas. Also that night, a nursery school was torched in the southern town of Carpentras.
On the night of the 14th and the morning of the 15th, 215 vehicles were burned across France and 71 people were arrested. Thirteen vehicles were torched in central Paris, compared to only one the night before. In the suburbs of Paris, firebombs were thrown at the treasury in Bobigny and at an electrical transformer in Clichy-sous-Bois, the neighborhood where the disturbances started. A daycare centre in Cambrai and a tourist agency in Fontenay-sous-Bois were also attacked. Eighteen buses were damaged by arson at a depot in Saint-Étienne. The mosque in Saint-Chamond was hit by three firebombs, which did little damage.
Only 163 vehicles went up in flames on the 20th night of unrest, 15 to 16 November, leading the French government to claim that the country was returning to an "almost normal situation". During the night's events, a Roman Catholic church was burned and a vehicle was rammed into an unoccupied police station in Romans-sur-Isère. In other incidents, a police officer was injured while making an arrest after youths threw bottles of acid at the town hall in Pont-l'Évêque, and a junior high school in Grenoble was set on fire. Fifty arrests were carried out across the country.
On 16 November, the French parliament approved a three-month extension of the state of emergency (which ended on 4 January 2006) aimed at curbing riots by urban youths. The Senate on Wednesday passed the extension - a day after a similar vote in the lower house. The laws allow local authorities to impose curfews, conduct house-to-house searches and ban public gatherings. The lower house passed them by a 346-148 majority, and the Senate by 202-125.
A wine festival in Grenoble, Le Beaujolais nouveau, ended in rioting on the night of 18 November, with a crowd throwing rocks and bottles at riot police. Tear gas was deployed by officers. Sixteen youths and 17 police officers were injured. Though those events might have been easily linked with the riots in Paris suburbs, it appears they differ completely in nature and might just well be considered as predictable "wine festival" casualties, caused by misunderstanding and alcohol.
Salah Gaham's death 
Salah Gaham was a French concierge. Gaham was born on 27 August 1971 in the Algerian city of Annaba. His family eventually moved to Vesoul (Haute-Saône), France. Soon after, Gaham found a job in the area of Planoise and moved to Besançon. He began working as a security officer for The Forum, a building located in Cassin.
On the night of November 2, 2005, three cars were burned in the basement of the Forum. Gaham attempted to extinguish the fire and fell unconscious due to smoke inhalation. Firefighters attempted to resuscitate Gaham but were unsuccessful. Gaham died at the age of thirty four; his was the first death caused by the period of civil unrest.
The mayor honored Gaham by placing his name on a local street near the Forum. The street is called "Salah Gaham Square," and is marked by a commemorative plaque.
Commenting on other demonstrations in Paris a few months later, the BBC summarised reasons behind the events included youth unemployment and lack of opportunities in France's poorest communities. This is still a trend occurring in French suburbs today.
The head of the Direction centrale des renseignements généraux found no Islamic factor in the riots, while the New York Times reported on 5 November 2005 that "majority of the youths committing the acts are Muslim, and of African or North African origin" local youths adding that "many children of native French have also taken part."
The BBC reported that French society's negative perceptions of Islam and social discrimination of immigrants had alienated some French Muslims and may have been a factor in the causes of the riots: "Islam is seen as the biggest challenge to the country's secular model in the past 100 years". It was reported that there was discontent and a sense of alienation felt by many French Muslims and North African immigrants in the suburbs of French cities. However, the editorial also questioned whether or not such alarm is justified, citing that France's Muslim ghettos are not hotbeds of separatism and that "the suburbs are full of people desperate to integrate into the wider society."
There is a common perception, especially among foreigners and descendants of the recent waves of immigration, that French society has long made a practice of hiding, or at least whitewashing, its numerous signs and symptoms of racism, xenophobia and classism, by all accounts at least equal in intensity to those in other European countries. According to the BBC, "Those who live there say that when they go for a job, as soon as they give their name as "Mamadou" and say they live in Clichy-sous-Bois, they are immediately told that the vacancy has been taken." The nonprofit organization SOS Racisme, associated with the French Socialist Party (PS), said that after they sent identical curriculum vitae (CVs) to French companies with European- and African or Muslim-sounding names attached, they found CVs with African or Muslim sounding names were systematically discarded. In addition, they have claimed widespread use of markings indicating ethnicity in employers' databases and that discrimination is more widespread for those with college degrees than for those without.
Assessment of rioting 
Assessments of the extent of violence and damage that occurred during the riots are under way. Figures may be incomplete or inaccurate. Some French media sources, including France 3, have decided not to report the extent of damage to avoid any risk of inflaming the situation.
Summary statistics 
Figures and tables 
Note: In the table and charts, events reported as occurring during a night and the following morning are listed as occurring on the day of the morning. The timeline article does the opposite.
|day||No. of vehicles burned||arrests||extent of riots||sources|
|1.||Friday 28 October 2005||NA||27||Clichy-sous-Bois|||
|2.||Saturday 29 October 2005||29||14||Clichy-sous-Bois|||
|3.||Sunday 30 October 2005||30||19||Clichy-sous-Bois|||
|4.||Monday 31 October 2005||NA||NA||Clichy-sous-Bois, Montfermeil|
|5.||Tuesday 1 November 2005||69||NA||Seine-Saint-Denis|||
|6.||Wednesday 2 November 2005||40||NA||Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne Val-d'Oise, Hauts-de-Seine|
|7.||Thursday 3 November 2005||315||29||Île-de-France, Dijon, Rouen, Bouches-du-Rhône, Planoise (one death)|||
|8.||Friday 4 November 2005||596||78||Île-de-France, Dijon, Rouen, Marseille|| |
|9.||Saturday 5 November 2005||897||253||Île-de-France, Rouen, Dijon, Marseille, Évreux, Roubaix, Tourcoing, Hem, Strasbourg, Rennes, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Pau, Lille|| |
|10.||Sunday 6 November 2005||1,295||312||Île-de-France, Nord, Eure, Eure-et-Loir, Haute-Garonne, Loire-Atlantique, Essonne.|||
|11.||Monday 7 November 2005||1,408||395||274 towns in total. Île-de-France, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Midi-Pyrénées, Rhône-Alpes, Alsace, Franche-Comté.||  |
|12.||Tuesday 8 November 2005||1,173||330||Paris region, Lille, Auxerre, Toulouse, Alsace, Lorraine, Franche-Comté, Angers||  |
|13.||Wednesday 9 November 2005||617||280||116 towns in total. Paris region, Toulouse, Rhône, Gironde, Arras, Grasse, Dole, Bassens|||
|14.||Thursday 10 November 2005||482||203||Toulouse, Belfort|| |
|15.||Friday 11 November 2005||463||201||Toulouse, Lille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Marseille|||
|16.||Saturday 12 November 2005||502||206||NA|||
|17.||Sunday 13 November 2005||374||212||Lyon, Toulouse, Carpentras, Dunkirk, Amiens, Grenoble||fr:Violences urbaines de 2005 en banlieue française#Bilan des journées passées|
|18.||Monday 14 November 2005||284||115||Toulouse, Faches-Thumesnil, Halluin, Grenoble|||
|19.||Tuesday 15 November 2005||215||71||Saint-Chamond, Bourges|||
|20.||Wednesday 16 November 2005||163||50||Paris region, Arras, Brest, Vitry-le-François, Romans-sur-Isère|| |
Allegations of an organized plot and Nicolas Sarkozy's comments 
Nicolas Sarkozy, interior minister at the time, declared a "zero tolerance" policy towards urban violence after the fourth night of riots and announced that 17 companies of riot police (C.R.S.) and seven mobile police squadrons (escadrons de gendarmerie mobile) would be stationed in contentious Paris neighborhoods.
The families of the two youths killed, after refusing to meet with Sarkozy, met with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Azouz Begag, delegate minister for the promotion of equal opportunity, criticized Sarkozy for the latter's use of "imprecise, warlike semantics", while Marie-George Buffet, secretary of the French Communist Party, criticized an "unacceptable strategy of tension" and "the not less inexcusable definition of French youth as 'scum'" (racaille, a term considered by some to bear implicit racial and ethnic resonances) by the Interior Minister, Sarkozy; she also called for the creation of a Parliamentary commission to investigate the circumstances of the death of the two young people, which ignited the riots.
State of emergency and measures concerning immigration policy 
President Jacques Chirac announced a national state of emergency on 8 November. The same day, Lilian Thuram, a famous Football player and member of the Higher Council for Integration, blamed Sarkozy. He explained that discrimination and unemployment were at the root of the problem. On 9 November 2005, Nicolas Sarkozy issued an order to deport foreigners convicted of involvement, provoking concerns from the left-wing. He told parliament that 120 foreigners, "not all of whom are here illegally" — had been called in by police and accused of taking part in the nightly attacks. "I have asked the prefects to deport them from our national territory without delay, including those who have a residency visa", he said. The far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen agreed, stating that naturalized French rioters should have their citizenship revoked. The Syndicat de la Magistrature, a magistrate trade-union, criticized Sarkozy's attempts to make believe that most rioters were foreigners, whereas the huge majority of them were French citizens. A demonstration against the expulsion of all foreign rioters and demanding the end of the state of emergency was called for on 15 November in Paris by left-wing and human rights organizations.
On 20 November 2005, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced tightened controls on immigration: Authorities will increase enforcement of requirements that immigrants seeking 10-year residency permits or French citizenship master the French language and integrate into society. Chirac's government also plans to crack down on fraudulent marriages that some immigrants use to acquire residency rights and launch a stricter screening process for foreign students. Anti-racism groups widely opposed the measures, saying that greater government scrutiny of immigrants could stir up racism and racist acts and that energy and money was best deployed for other uses than chasing an ultra-minority of fraudsters.
An extra 2,600 police were drafted on 6 November. On 7 November, French premier, Dominique de Villepin, announced on the TF1 television channel the deployment of 18,000 police officers, supported by a 1,500 strong reserve. Sarkozy also suspended eight police officers for beating up someone they had arrested after TV displayed the images of this act of police brutality.
Media coverage 
Jean-Claude Dassier, News director general at the private channel TF1 and one of France's leading TV news executives, admitted to self censoring the coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians; while public television station France 3 stopped reporting the numbers of torched cars, apparently in order not to encourage "record making" between delinquent groups.
Foreign news coverage was criticized by president Chirac as showing in some cases excessiveness (démesure) and Prime Minister de Villepin said in an interview to CNN that the events should not be called riots as the situation was not violent to the extent of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, no death casualties being reported during the unrest itself – although it had begun after the deaths of two youth pursued by the police.
Backlash against French Hip Hop artists 
French rappers and hip hop artists were accused of inciting the youth of the banlieues to riot. After the riots, 200 French parliament members called for legal action against several French rappers, accusing them of inciting the violence.
See also 
- List of riots
- Summary and map of the 2005 French riots
- 2013 Husby riots
- 2011 English riots
- 2007 Villiers-le-Bel riots
- 2006 Brussels riots
- Beaud, Stéphane; Olivier Masclet (October 2006). "Des " marcheurs " de 1983 aux " émeutiers " de 2005, deux générations sociales d’enfants d’immigrés". Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 61: 809–844. ISBN 978-2-200-92100-2. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Canet, R; L Pech, M Stewart (November 2008). "France's Burning Issue: Understanding the Urban Riots of November 2005". SSRN, SSRC.
- French emergency state ruled legal
- Etat d'urgence justifié pour le ministère de l'Intérieur
- Le Conseil d'Etat refuse de suspendre l'état d'urgence
- Behind the Furor, the Last Moments of Two Youths
- Muhittin Altun
- Paris gripped by serious new riots
- Riots Continue in Paris Suburbs
- L'antiterrorisme, selon le patron des RG
- Les violences se stabilisent
- Riot erupts in French city centre
- Violences urbaines: 163 véhicules incendiés dans la nuit
- France extends laws to curb riots
- Report of the city Council after the drama; (in French)
- Q&A: French labour law row
- 10 Officers Shot as Riots Worsen in French Cities
- Ghettos shackle French Muslims
- Ghettos shackle French Muslims
- Violence exposes France's weaknesses
- "First French racism poll released". BBC News. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- Crumley, Bruce (6 January 2007). "Racism Unfiltered in France". Time. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "Report attacks racism in France". BBC News. 17 June 1998. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- French Muslims face job discrimination
- Clichy's 'les miserables'
- France PM: Curfews to stem riots
- "La boîte de Pandore de Sarkozy". L'Humanité. 3 November 2005.
- Football heroes blame social injustice
- "Comprendre avant de juger : à propos des émeutes urbaines en France (by anthropologist Alain Morice)". Samizdat. 31 December 2005.
- Die Banlieues kommen nicht zur Ruhe
- French TV boss admits censoring riot coverage
- Must-see French TV
- Les principales réponses de Jacques Chirac
- De Villepin interview: Full text
- French Rap Musicians Blamed for Violence : NPR
- Planoise-reflexion (In French)
- Besancon.fr (In French)
- ^ Article from Le Monde
- ^ "Scotsman" on renewal of state of emergency
- ^ Indymedia on renewal of state of emergency, #torched cars
- ^ "Each night between 40 and 60 cars are torched" according to the Council of State in "Le Canard enchaîné #4442, 14 December 2005.
- ^ Renewal of state of emergency (article from Le Monde)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 2005 France riots|
|Wikinews has related news: French riots continue into second week|
|Wikinews has related news: First casualty of French riots reported|
- Durand, Jacky Libération (29 October 2005), "Pompier façon légion romaine" (Firefighters à la roman legion)
- New Straits Times, p. 28 (8 November 2005), "Fatwa against riot issued"
- New Straits Times, p. 28 (8 November 2005), "French violence rages on"
- Rousseau, Ingrid Associated Press (31 October 2005), "France to Step Up Security After Riots"
- Gecker, Jocelyn Associated Press (2 November 2005), "French government in crisis mode"
- Gecker, Jocelyn Associated Press (2 November 2005), "Seventh Day of Violence Erupts Near Paris" by
- Keaten, Jamey Associated Press (3 November 2005), "French residents can only watch amid riots"
- ABC News (4 November 2005), "Paris Riots in Perspective". .
- New Straits Times, p. 24. (5 November 2005), "Riots spread to suburbs".
- Heneghan, Tom Reuters (5 November 2005), "Paris seeks 'hidden hands' in riots"
- Reuters (6 November 2005), "France's Chirac says restoring order top priority"
- Bouteldja, Naima Red Pepper "Paris is burning" (9 November 2005)
- Sciolino, Elaine New York Times (10 November 2005), "Chirac, Lover of Spotlight, Avoids Glare of France's Fires"
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung (11 November 2005), "Die Banlieues kommen nicht zur Ruhe" ("The suburbs do not get quiet")
- BBC News (17 November 2005), "French violence 'back to normal'"
- French Riots: A Failure of the Elite, Not the Republic, JURIST
- French Riots: A Wake-up Call for the West, The Indypendent
- French Right Reviles Rappers, The Indypendent
- La Repubblica image gallery
- Pictures from the BBC
- Map of affected areas as of 7 November
- Photos of Clichy-Sous-Bois, Montfermeil, and Aubervilliers
- Emmanuel Todd interview on the 'French riots' translation of an interview of Emmanuel Todd with Le Monde
- Essays about the riots written by social scientists
- A left wing analysis, in French of the crisis in the banlieues
- Nous les zonards voyous, n+1 review
- L'Humanité in English (search "riots", "sarkozy", "November", etc.)
- One Year After the Uprising in the French Suburbs: We Can’t Afford to Forget Them, L'Humanite in English.
- Op-ed in Liberation by Jean Baudrillard
- Some politically incorrect reflexions on violence in France by Slavoj Žižek, on Multitudes website
- The Guardian: Questions over the country's ability to integrate its Muslim population
- ZMag: Why is France Burning?
- Spiked Magazine: Letter from a Burning Banlieue, by Patrick Belton (who also wrote about the riots from Aulnay-sous-Bois on OxBlog)
- Working Class France... by Matthieu Kassovitz (director of the film La Haine)
- in French workplace LA Times, 26 November 2005, Sebastian Rotella (mentions a report published shortly before unrest began)
- WHY IS FRANCE BURNING? The rebellion of a lost generation, by Doug Ireland, an indepth look at what led to the riots
- Rioting in France: Le Mal Français. Decline and Fall of the French Model..., by Benjamin Sehene (Writer of Rwandan origin of Le feu sous la Soutane)
- THE PYRES OF AUTUMN, New Left Review, Jan-Feb 2006, Jean Baudrillard
- Ethnicity and Equality: France in the Balance by Azouz Begag,translated and with an introduction by Alec G. Hargreaves (Nebraska, 2007)
- Irina Mihalache, Imagining the Diasporic Link: The Franco-Algerian Media Dialogues on the 2005 'Emeutes' in France, Cultural Shifts, 2008.
Eyewitness blog reports 
- Paris Rioting – a digest of francophone blogs (English)