The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


In a comment to the Belgravia Dispatch post I linked yesterday, Ukranian commenter "bb" writes:
The real results of this will not come from the actions of the rioters but will be from the actions of the government. If there is a sense that the government responded positively to rioting, then I would expect a repeat not only in France but other countries. If the government smashes the violence and makes it clear that this is not an effective method to addressing grievances, it will be less likely to recur.
This is an immensely important point, which does not seem to have received much attention. A hard line against the rioters is a dangerous position for the French government; but anything other than a hard line is a danger to the governments of Denmark, Italy, Spain and more.

[Here is a recent article from the Seattle Times, which at least mentions the problem of contagion, though it treats the other governments as passive bystanders. It also shows some preposterously inept posturing from Turkey, the country with most to lose from these riots:
Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said France had ignored his calls for more tolerance, arguing that France's ban on head scarves in public schools triggered the riots.
"We've always told our friends in Europe that they should not lead to a clash of civilizations in order to prevent such incidents," the daily Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying.
"We should work for an alliance between civilizations. There is a great duty which falls on the Christian and Muslim world. Europe should have evaluated this," Erdogan said. "We said it. But France did not take it into account. It did not listen to us."]

I do not know whether the diplomats of these countries are pressuring the French to take a harder stance, or what they can offer in return to sweeten the bitter pill.

Just think, France is now being asked to "take one for the team". Funny old world.