News / Europe

Tensions Simmer Over Muslim Veil Incident in Paris Suburb

A woman wearing a full-face veil, or niqab, covers her eyes as she stands near police in Lille, France, in this September 22, 2012, file photo.
A woman wearing a full-face veil, or niqab, covers her eyes as she stands near police in Lille, France, in this September 22, 2012, file photo.
Lisa Bryant
As temperatures soar in France, tensions are also on the rise over Islam, immigration, violence and the state's response to long-simmering tensions in the country's low-income suburbs. It all started with weekend clashes outside the French capital.

Just as French government ministers begin packing their holiday suitcases, violence erupting in the Paris suburb of Trappes suggests they may not be in for a calm summer. Dozens of people assaulted the Trappes police station this past weekend, throwing fireworks and setting trash cans on fire.

The incidents apparently took place after police arrested a man for assaulting them, after they detained his wife for wearing the face-covering veil in public - a practice that is banned in France.

The chain of events sparks memories of previous unrest - first in 2005, when youth riots swept across the country, mostly in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods. In 2010, a new French law banning the face veil also triggered debate and anger.

What's different today, says French sociologist Michel Wieviorka, is the connection between the two issues. Wieviorka is the author of "Evil," a book exploring terrorism, violence and racism.

"There is something which is really new. It is the fact that suddenly two issues that in the recent past were distinct became one and only issue. That is to say, on the one hand, you have many people living in these kinds of poor suburbs that are facing social inequalities, exclusions, racism, police behavior - the classical issue force that explains social riots in the French suburbs, banlieues," said Wieviorka.

The other issue, said Wieviorka, is the ongoing tension over the French face veil ban. Several hundred women have been caught violating the ban since it became law, although not all have faced penalties. In this latest incident, police say the husband of a woman flouting the ban tried to strangle one of their officers. Local Muslim groups dispute that account.

On Monday, a teenager was sentenced to six months in prison in connection with the Trappes clashes. Two other defendants were acquitted. The situation in Trappes remains tense but, for the moment, calm.

France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls has defended the police response.

Interviewed on French radio following the violence, Valls said Trappes residents want order and calm restored  - and that's what's happening. He saluted what he called exemplary work by the police.

Valls also defended the French face veil ban, saying it was not against Islam, but rather was in the interest of women.

But the response by France's leftist government has sparked strong criticism - both for being too tough and not tough enough.

Politicians from the main, center-right UMP opposition party accuse the government of being too lax. Interviewed on France-Info radio Tuesday, former UMP minister Valerie Pecresse criticized the justice system for not cracking down more swiftly and firmly.

What's clear, said sociologist Wieviorka, is that successive governments - both from the left and the right - have failed to alleviate longstanding tensions over immigration and violence. "In front of all these problems at that stage, the only possible answer for the government has been sending in the police, sticking [to] terms of order, in terms of security, respect of the law," Wieviorka stated.

For example, Socialist President Francois Hollande made campaign promises to end racially based identity checks and to introduce legislation giving immigrants the right to vote in local elections. So far, Wieviorka says, neither promise has been fulfilled.

"So there is a strong feeling that if you live in these neighborhoods, if you are an immigrant, you are Muslim, or you are different, you are not taken seriously into account," said Wieviorka.

New reports Tuesday suggest French police are now being probed over racist remarks made on an unofficial police Facebook page at the time of the Trappes violence. France's summer is just beginning. It remains to be seen just how it will end.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mhee from: Northern Luzon
July 24, 2013 3:02 AM
How about in some part of Middle East why Christian are strictly have to put veil even though its uncomfortable to use it specially during summer.Christian country should respect Muslim culture as Muslim country should also respect Christian culture to be fair.


by: African from: SouthAfrica
July 23, 2013 7:32 PM
a mayor and lawmaker who allegedly told a group of itinerant Roma, parked illegally near his town, that Hitler had not killed enough of them..... franch police arrested a man for,after they detained his wife for wearing the face-covering veil in public - a practice that is banned in France.....looks like EU and their nations are trying and secciding in etnicly clensing their lands from minorities....Jews,Roma,Africans, Arabs, IndoAsians, Muslims,Albanians,Bosniaks,Russians, and others...so sad EU....just like EU did nothing in Balkans wars when Serbs raped,killed, and expeled Milions of Bosniaks and Albanians...now Bosnia is divided and Serb minority rules mijority thru Dayton Accords that build up genocide founded Republika Srpska....so sad for ''democratic'' EU for doing nothing too put down genocide founded Republiks on their lands like Srpska....and they are sayin Africa,South America needs too be more democratic.....EU needs to ''democritize''your own back yard..... and stop supporting etnic cleansing of EU minorities



In Response

by: Slobodan from: USA
July 24, 2013 6:29 PM
Srpska is made up with USA,Russia, France, and UK blessings....and there is no going back even if it is made on genocide, killing, and rape .....Serbia ,EU and USA are the most happy because there is no more 1 million bosniaks(muslims) there....and that is why dayton happened....to bless the us Serbs with a new REPUBLIC of Srpska


by: SAS from: Atlanta
July 23, 2013 6:56 PM
How does insulting women who cover their faces in public by police promote women's rights ?

From what I can tell, France's treatment of its minorities is awful.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid