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Mean Streets

More reports emerged today in the media about unrest in Parisian suburbs and the escalating violence between armed rioters engaged in running battles with police following the deaths of two youths whose motorbike collided with a police vehicle in the Villiers- le-Bel district on Sunday.

As reported on The Today Programme the deaths have sparked outrage amongst the communities in the suburbs, mostly made up of ethnic migrants of north African origin, with claims of a police cover-up by the victims families and accusations of impunity, racism and forceful policing tactics.

The events have reopened wounds of earlier riots in 2005, which blighted President Sarkozys time in office as interior minister where he became the focus of angry protesters after he branded youths of these districts as scum. This has also reignited the debate surrounding migrant integration, race relations and social issues of marginalized communities on the outskirts of French cities, who have a deep mistrust of the police and   are disillusioned with the government.


The Times reported that Sarkozy has promised a tough stance against the rioters, but with news of 120 police injured, riots spreading south to the city of Toulouse and fears that heavy handed tactics could provoke greater outcry and violence, surely its time to tackle the overriding social issues?


Meanwhile, it is religious tensions that appear to be on the rise in Turkey.

A Catholic priest was shot dead last year and three protestants were killed in April. And now, according to the BBC, a priest from the Syriac Christian community in the south-east of Turkey has been kidnapped. A local clergyman has received a phone call demanding a ransom for his release.

Then in Istanbul, Erol Karaaslan is facing up to a year in jail for inciting religious hatred. His crime? Erol published the bestselling book The God Delusion by the atheist author Richard Dawkins. Apparently, Erol has been told by prosecutors that he will be questioned next week and will face trial if they conclude the book incites religious hatred and insults religious values.

And finally, Morrissey. The self-acclaimed misery man of pop has waded into the debate on multiculturalism in the UK. In an interview in the NME the former-Smiths frontman blames an influx of immigration on ruining English society. The son of Irish Catholic immigrants now lives in Rome.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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