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OTHER ITA SITES:
Conflict Management - Parisian Style
Conflict Management – Parisian Style (part 1)
The suburbs of Paris are in flames. For the last couple of months civil war like conditions have reigned in the suburbs of the French capital/metropolis. Arson attacks are rampant. Thousands of cars and buses are being set ablaze. Also among the targets were a synagogue, warehouses, auto dealerships, schools and other public institutions. Even members of the local Police and Fire department are being bombarded with crude firebombs, rocks, bottles and other injury-causing items. The wave of violence throughout many of Paris’ suburban areas was rooted in the accidental electrocution-deaths of two North-African teenagers, which prior to getting killed were chased by police.
As hundreds of protesters were arrested, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin summoned his Interior Minister Nicolas Sarcozy, as well as other cabinet members for a crisis conference in the French Capital. But Sarcozy’s emerging conflict-communication style has the rest of the world, including his most ardent supporters, scratching their heads.
Fighting Fire with Gasoline
The world’s perception of the French government’s handling of this national crisis is one of helplessness and paralysis. Their struggle to find an effective solution is apparent to France’s own citizens as well as a stunned global audience. Add to that the minister of the interior’s inflammatory rhetoric, calling the rioters “scum” on national television that needs to be “cleansed out of the suburbs”. The resulting effect: The so-labeled “scum” promptly reciprocated with increased violence, rioting and arson attacks.
Battle-rhetoric and insults are becoming a signature style for Nicolas Sarcozy, as he’s repeatedly labeled the rioting, mainly Arab and North African, immigrant youths as “scum” and “gangsters”.
Predictably, the aggressive tone and inflammatory rhetoric of the 50-year old presidential candidate served only to further ignite the aggression and violence that garnered world-wide attention as arson attacks on vehicles and schools and wide-spread rioting increased night after night in the suburbs around Paris. The frustrations of thousands of young immigrants continued to be fueled by the battle-declarations of Sarcozy, as their actions suggest a battle of the wills with their primary hate-figure in the conservative French Government.
“It is our job to eliminate this cancer and rid ourselves of this scum,” rants a defiant Sarcozy. His plan, according to insiders, is to “cleanse” the Parisian suburbs, counting on support from French right-wing voters. Similar to his radical political colleague, Jean Le Pen, Sarcozy is well aware of the emotional push-buttons of the average French citizen, and their attitude towards the “hooligans and rioters” from North Africa.
“Hostile rhetoric is often the cause of hostile actions, and hostile actions often escalate into violence, conflict and worse.”
UN Secretary General Kofi Anan in a Speech in Salzburg Austria, April 2001 titled “Dialog Among Civilizations”
In the meantime, the French government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, is struggling to contain the violence and rioting. Facing relentless onslaught, even law enforcement officials are speaking out against the counter-productive language of Interior Minister Sarcozy.
“The situation in the suburbs is at a boiling point, and we’re in the middle of it 24/7, so the last thing we need is to pour gasoline into the fire with comments like ‘cleansing the cities’. It’s inappropriate and counterproductive,” says Francis Masanet, Vice Secretary General of France’s Police Union.
While experts, politicians and sociologists debate the likely reasons for the recent ongoing violence and riots, fingering everything from failed integration policies to a rise in poverty and unemployment in the suburbs, particularly among young immigrants, many agree that the interior minister’s aggressive rhetoric and inflammatory language sparked an already simmering fire of unrest, igniting a wave of destruction from thousands of desperate and frustrated young rioters, tainting the French governments image as it struggled to maintain control amid the escalating violence.
One Mayor in the French suburb of Rosny-sous-Bois likened the situation to “Guerilla Warfare” and called for calm and collective thinking and acting by citizens and police alike, to start containing the furious rage that has cut a scorching path through many of Paris’ suburban immigrant neighborhoods.
To be continued...
Copyright 2006 Harrison Monarth
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