Big police presence stamps out unrest in French city
A HEAVY police presence in Amiens ensured no repeat of violence in the northern French city last night, after President Francois Hollande pledged to stamp out unrest.
Mr Hollande, facing his first major law and order test, sent his interior minister to Amiens on Tuesday to investigate two nights of disturbances in which 17 police officers were hurt.
An extra 100 police were dispatched to the troubled district in northern Amiens on Tuesday, bringing to 250 the number of security forces patrolling the area in contrast to the usual 30, officials said.
France has been prone to periodic bouts of unrest over the past decade in the rundown neighbourhoods that ring many of the country’s big cities.
"The night in the northern district of Amiens was very, very calm. There were incidents in other parts of Amiens and seven cars were burned but this is sadly something that is a regular occurrence in the city," a police spokesman said. "We hope we have turned the page but you never know, something may spark at any moment."
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Manuel Valls toured the Fafet district, telling reporters violence against the police and destruction of property would not be tolerated.
In a sign that quiet had returned, vans packed with riot police withdrew early yesterday, and a few residents were out walking their dogs or coming out of early morning prayers at the local mosque.
The violence appears to have been triggered by a police spot check on Sunday on the sidelines of a memorial service for a young man who died in a road accident, with some residents blaming heavy handed policing for the disturbances.
"I want them to respect us and stop stopping us and treating us like dogs," said Fatima Hadji, the dead man’s mother.
Her daughter, Sabrina, agreed: "We vote, we pay taxes, but too many times they treat us like animals."
Parts of Amiens have recently been classified as a "priority security zone" in need of extra policing and the riots are a first test for Mr Hollande’s law and order policies.
His Socialist government has already been criticised by opponents on the right over planned changes to the judicial system announced earlier this month, such as doing away with mandatory minimum sentences some say led to prison overcrowding without lowering recidivism.
Repeat bouts of violence have provoked debate over the state of France’s deprived housing estates and the integration of poor whites, blacks and North African immigrants into mainstream society. Weeks of rioting in 2005, the worst unrest in France in 40 years, led to a state of emergency being imposed. Further disturbances occurred in 2007 and 2010.
More in this section
- Rioters torch Sweden’s image of peaceful nation
- Cameron condemns brutal killing of soldier in London
- Lagarde grilled over France payout to tycoon
- Lloyds ditches mortgage securities
- NEWS ANALYSIS: Beijing cautious on its rapid urbanisation plan
- EU’s Barnier aims to widen tax compliance net for large firms