This commentary vastly overstates the Canadian situation and in some cases simply misrepresents it. Nevertheless it gives some insight into the history of these riots in France.
Immigrants from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and elsewhere arrived in France between 1956 and 1974 in search of a better economic future and to quench the thirst for cheap labour in the booming French economy. The parents and grandparents of today’s unemployed rioters arrived at a time of full employment, allowing many of them to gain a modest toehold in the country. In the absence of a vibrant private housing sector, the state built millions of housing units, in large estates that sheltered 6,000 to 60,000 people.
Today, a 10th of the population lives in public housing with all the charm of Moscow’s Brezhnev-era monstrosities. In the city of Nancy, there is a 430-metre-long building that contains 7,000 residents… Extreme problems called forth extreme solutions, and city planners’ errors were literally cast in concrete. Most French housing estates are located far from the hustle and bustle of the central city. Jobs are as scarce as hope. As jobs evaporated during the 1980s, native-born white French citizens abandoned public housing to immigrants…
Paris has entire suburbs, with hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in almost complete isolation from the mainstream, decade after decade… North Africans are expected to jettison all their cultural and religious baggage at the border, and pretend that their ancestors are the Gauls. Multiculturalism is dismissed as a dangerous Anglo-Saxon import, or even the path to Balkanization. Sixteen-year-old girls donning head scarves seem to threaten France’s century-old official separation of church and state.
The head-scarf ban was interpreted by Muslims as an attack on their religion and way of life, a sign that they are not welcome in France… Indeed, they are not welcome: Opinion polls tell us that most French people believe there are too many Arabs in France… The French believe that multiculturalism would only privilege individuals by association with their ethnic, religious or racial roots. There is no such concept as Algerian French.