MARSEILLE, France (AP) - France's interior minister sent riot police to patrol the southern port city of Marseille on Sunday after a group of marauding Muslim teenagers torched a bus, gravely burning a young woman.
French police braced for violence this weekend, the anniversary of last year's riots in poor neighborhoods where Muslim immigrants from former French colonies in Africa live with their French-born children on the fringes of society.
On Saturday, 46 people were taken into custody, most of them in the Muslim communities around Paris, and two police officers were slightly injured. The most serious violence was the brutal bus attack in Marseille.
A group of young Muslim people burst onto the bus and tossed in a bottle of flammable liquid before fleeing, police said, citing witnesses' accounts. The resulting fire injured a 26-year-old woman, who suffered second- and third-degree burns on her arms, legs and face and was in a medically induced coma on Sunday.
President Jacques Chirac telephoned the woman's family, ensuring them that France would "do everything to find the assailants and punish them with the greatest severity," his office said.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin called a meeting for Monday on public transport safety, while Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's office said he was sending two extra companies of riot police to Marseille. Bus drivers in Marseille refused to return to work.
Though Muslim youths have burned other buses during flare-up of violence, passengers have generally escaped before the vehicles went up in flames. Another bus was burned Saturday in Trappes, outside Paris, but its passengers fled unharmed, police said.
The three weeks of rioting by Muslims last year were fueled by anger at France's failure to offer equal chances to many minorities, including France's 5 million-strong Muslim population.(aha, they got one)
The rioting was sparked by the deaths of two Muslim teenagers who were electrocuted in a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois on Oct. 27, 2005, where they were hiding after what they thought was a police chase.
For the anniversary of the teens' deaths, national police said about 4,000 extra police and riot officers were deployed across the country to cope with a possible resurgence of violence. Some 7,000 police are at the ready on an average night in France.
Aside from the bus attack in Marseille, the Interior Ministry said that both Friday and Saturday night were "relatively calm." Muslim youths set fire to about 200 vehicles Saturday, police said. But even on ordinary nights, the number of cars burned often reaches 100.
France's trouble integrating Muslim minorities and the unrest in poor neighborhoods have become political priorities in the campaign for next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
The government passed an equal opportunities law this spring and has poured in funds to its "sensitive" areas, but disenchantment among Muslims continues.
Look how differently and clearly the article reads with "Muslim" included in the appropriate places. Are we so politically correct now that criminals cannot be identified by what they are? If these were Christian youths who were rioting, the media would certainly report on them as such without hesitation. This is why you must get your news from multiple sources. The mainstream media cannot be relied on to report the facts as they are. They will protect those with whose politics they agree, and villify those they oppose politically...not exactly the "free press" the founding fathers had in mind is it?
UPDATE: I first posted the above on Sunday. Lest you think I am alone in my observations, here's Neal Boortz ranting about this same thing Monday morning in his "reading assignments" section on his web site...
They're Muslims! The rioters in France were and are Muslims! I repeat ... Muslims! Why the hell can't the media at least admit that much! Read this story from Brietbart.com .... not once in the entire story is the word "Muslim" or "Islam" mentioned. We get references to "African decent" and "Arabs" .. but not once are the rioters identified for who and what they are ... MUSLIMS! Western culture is at war, dammit ... and they're being goaded into this violence by Muslim leaders. Wake up, folks. It's high time we recognize the enemy.