Many politicians have warned that the unrest may be coalescing into an organized movement, citing Internet chatter that is urging other poor neighborhoods across France to join in. The Justice Ministry announced today that it had arrested three youths who had called for rioting and attacks on police on their Web sites, though it stressed that the three did not know each other. No one has emerged to take the lead like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, known as Danny the Red, did during the violent student protests that rocked the French capital in 1968.
Though a majority of the youths committing the acts are Muslim, and of African or North African origin, the mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones. Youths in the neighborhoods say second-generation Portuguese immigrants and even some children of native French have taken part.
In an effort to stop the attacks and distance them from Islam, France's most influential Islamic group issued a religious edict, or fatwa, condemning the violence. "It is formally forbidden for any Muslim seeking divine grace and satisfaction to participate in any action that blindly hits private or public property or could constitute an attack on someone's life," the fatwa said, citing the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad.
One is heartened to learn of the fatwa against destruction of property and attacks on human life.
We will wait to see whether the continuing and spreading violence coalesces around any religious or ideological banner.
Perhaps a good label for these "youth"'s in the interim would be the traditional and straightforward barbarians, which singles out no particular ethnic or religious group.