Posted by: sean | November 7, 2005

The religious conflict that isn’t

Today’s Times includes a very misleading account of the riots in the Parisian region. It says that rue Dupuis, where some cars were burned Saturday night, is in the Marais and makes a point of saying that it is the old Jewish district:

On Sunday, a gaping hole exposed a charred wooden staircase of a smoke-blackened building in the historic Marais district of Paris, where a car was set ablaze the previous night. Florent Besnard, 24, said he and a friend had just turned into the quiet Rue Dupuis when they were passed by two running youths. Within seconds, a car farther up the street was engulfed in flames, its windows popping and tires exploding as the fire spread to the building and surrounding vehicles.

“I think it’s going to continue,” said Mr. Besnard, who is unemployed.

The attack angered people in the neighborhood, which includes the old Jewish quarter and is still a center of Jewish life in the city. “We escaped from Romania with nothing and came here and worked our fingers to the bone and never asked for anything, never complained,” said Liliane Zump, a woman in her 70’s, shaking with fury on the street outside the scarred building.

A quick look at a map of Paris, however, shows that rue Dupuis is not in the Marais; it is very close to Place de la République and is in the 3rd arrondissement, whereas the Marais is mostly in the 4th by the métro station St. Paul:

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When the Times incorrectly insinuates that Paris’s historically Jewish neighborhood, which is coincidently its homosexual neighborhood as well, has been targeted by rioters, their mistake gives a purely social problem a false air of religious conflict. But I suppose sensationalism sells.



  1. hum Sean, I think you made a small mistake : Le marais is the Gay quarter, but Le Sentier is the Jewish quarter, not exactly in the same place (north of Les Halles).
    But still, you’re right when you say that there’s nothing religious about those riots, that’s an economical conflict, with maybe a bit of Political troubles !!!
    And Most of the riots were not even in Paris, 90% of the car burning were in the north subburb, wich is a huge muslim and immigrants neighborhood. They’re just burning their parent’s cars, stores, and even the fast foods where they eat (in Aulnay sous bois for example).

  2. I know where le sentier is, but the marais is the historically Jewish neighborhood. You and I know that there are several Jewish neighborhoods, but the historically Jewish neighborhood is in the marais. And I mentioned that it was gay also, which is why you can see gay couples and hasidic Jews on the same street there.

    Pauvre tache, va!

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