The BBC reports
this morning that a thousand police officers have been deployed in the
suburbs of Paris for the eighth night since the start of recent
violence in largely-Muslim neighbourhoods.

The riots began last
week after two teenagers were electrocuted in a sub-station after
reportedly being chased by police. The disturbances have spread, helped
along by the rhetoric of populist interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy,
who referred to the rioters as “racaille” – a derogatory term that the media translate as “scum.”

is an article of faith among the hard right in Australia that Muslim
immigration to Europe has created huge “no-go” areas in the suburbs of
major cities, due to the refusal of these groups to assimilate. This
was one of the themes of the famous battle between Janet Albrechtsen and Media Watch back in 2002.

But the reports this week from Paris, including a very interesting series
by Henri Astier for the BBC, tell a different story – of Muslims who
want to integrate, but have been held back by discrimination and by
misguided social and economic policies. Most see “no contradiction between being French and having foreign roots.”

one resident said to the BBC: “How am I supposed to feel French when
people always describe me as a Frenchman of Algerian origin? I was born
here. I am French. How many generations does it take to stop mentioning
my origin?” Another told Le Monde: “We have had papers for generations but we are not French like the others.”

French set themselves high standards in this; they insist that everyone
can be French and share the same secular culture, regardless of racial
or religious origin. With the partial exception of a few like Sarkozy,
none of them want to admit that model doesn’t work. But they also don’t
want to admit what might be closer to the truth, that they haven’t yet
given it a fair trial.