October 27, 2005: Riots break out in Paris. Two Muslim youths died in Clichy-sous-Bois, a poverty stricken commune outside Paris. Tensions had been high, but with most of France on holiday during the late summer, things had remained stable. After school started, tempers flared, exacerbated by the deaths. At first, rioting was confined to Paris but as the violence continued, it spread to outlying areas as well. The rioters mostly confined themselves to burning cars and public buildings.
After November 3, the violence spread and eventually included all 15 of the large aires urbaines in the country. Most of the rioters were Muslim North Africans. On November 8, President Jacques Chirac declared a state of emergency effective at midnight. This reduced some of the rioting, but did not end it. On November 10-11, violence in Paris escalated and many riot police were injured in the confrontations. Power stations were attacked causing blackouts.
Rioting hot spots moved about the country with hundreds of cars being torched and many people being arrested. The numbers fluctuated day by day. On November 16, the French parliament approved a three-month extension of the state of emergency with the Senate passing the bill the next day. At a wine festival on November 18, the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles at riot police. There were 16 rioters and 17 police injured. The rioting eventually came to an end after the night of November 18.
The rioting lasted for 20 nights. There were 8,973 vehicles burned. Three nights had over 1,000 burned: Tuesday, November 8 had 1,173; Sunday, November 6 had 1,295; and Monday, November 7 had 1,408 burned. There were 2,888 arrests made with each of the previously listed dates having more than 300 arrests. There were 126 police and fire fighters injured and two deaths. The cost in damages was given as about €200 million.
“The events of 2005 were set off by the deaths of two youths who were thought to be running from police, and who climbed into an electricity power substation and were electrocuted.
The handling – the official handling of the immediate aftermath of that suspicions of a cover-up of events, official denials that police had been in the area or trying to track the down kids fueled an explosion of anger, which very quickly spread from one town northeast of the capital to neighboring towns, and eventually to hundreds of similar high-immigration, low-income areas around France.” – Emma Charlton
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavour; riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work.” – Virginia Woolf
“Passion is the mob of the man, that commits a riot upon his reason.” – William Penn