For those of you interested in details, you can get a fairly complete picture by looking at a couple of different sources. Basically, some young men were killed (in an accident, not by police) when they fled police after tear gas was shot into their mosque. As near as I can tell the reason the tear gas was shot into the mosque remains a mystery, but the riots have gone on now for nearly a week and are spreading to a number of other suburbs and towns around Paris. They seem to involve a lot of setting cars on fire.
CNN notes a compelling fact about the area where the whole thing began:
Clichy, northeast of Paris, is crowded and impoverished and with a large Muslim population. Local officials claim the suburb is one of the poorest in France.
About 60 percent of the residents of Clichy are immigrants who face discrimination and unemployment that runs to 25 percent — more than twice the national average.
Those who work in the community say young people are frustrated and angry.
“There are no factories. There are no jobs for anyone. There are no job centers,” said Mark Nadaud, a volunteer youth counselor.
“And when you go to look for a job and you say you are from here and they don’t want take you.”
And John Hinderaker at Powerline provides an apt reminder:
The Paris riots are just one small part of a worrisome picture. Over much of Europe, chronically slow economic growth has combined with a demographic crisis, comprised of low birth rates and inadequate assimilation of immigrants, to create the potential for explosive social unrest.
I agree largely with John’s assessment, but I think there is a critical element missing. This level of violence is born out of more than high unemployment and a tense social environment. The meager religious climate in Europe is leaving people hopeless. Without Christ they are left feeling unfulfilled and as though their lives are meaningless. This creates a dangerous desperation indeed, and one which is far from limited to a suburb in Paris. We ask for your continued prayers for Europe, for the people of Paris affected by this riot, for the leaders and officials working to resolve it, and your continued prayer for our fundraising so we can get there to help out.