Intolerable – About the Events
now know that the young people who tragically met their deaths
in an electrical substation in Clichy-sous-bois were not, to use
the given expression, “well known to the police.”
They were quiet young people who had no record of trouble. But
the contrary is not true.
their part, the young people knew the record of the police. They
knew that if they had to go through one of those I.D. checks –
as classic and vexing as they are useless – they ran the
risk of having to spend a few hours at the police station, dealing
with humiliation and contempt while they were there.
they did not have time for that. They had to go home, because
it was soon time to break the fast; they were looking forward
did the Minister of the Interrior make a point of saying that
these events took place following an attempted theft? Doubtless,
he wanted to play on the fantastic and disastrous idea that people
have of the “suburbs,” an idea that he himself helps
to spread. That they are lawless places ruled by criminals, threats
to public safety, breeding grounds of delinquency.
some young people die while fleeing the police, you might as well
tell the good people that it is because they had done something
wrong. Anything will do.
the story takes place on the edge of a poor neighbourhood in the
“inner suburbs” around Paris, it is because we’re
dealing with “trash.”
the Minister knows all about this! You can’t fool him! No
doubt, he would use some “karcher” on Clichy in honour
of “zero tolerance”. What we may doubt, though, is
that we have the same idea of what is “tolerable”
and what is not: after all, what is intolerable in a civilized
society is not the revolt of those whose children, brothers and
friends are hunted down and killed. What is intolerable is the
arrogance of the authorities, of irresponsible police, of the
State which is waging war against the poor.
these events the agents of the State have acted as if they were
in a civil war.
In an egalitarian society this would have been unthinkable. When
the Minister of the Interior sets the example by lying, one sees
no reason why his subordinates should not follow suit. So a police
officer goes an the radio and says that no tear gas was used against
the mosque, that in fact it was the demonstrators who used “pepper
spray grenades”, and that this is what stung some peoples’
eyes. Just like his boss knew full well that there had been no
theft, this cop was fully aware of what we all learnt later on,
namely that they were in fact tear gas grenades from the police
that were used.
so it was that during their prayers, on the Night of Destiny,
that the Moslems of Clichy were given a chance to appreciate the
efficiency of their country’s police. They have no need
to fear for their safety. They got to see how the Flash-Balls
work. They got to see the children running scared while their
mothers, trying to protect them, were called “whores”
and chased down the stairs by the Mr Sarkozy’s soldiers.
who did not know are now able to see what “colonial neighbourhood
management” means. Tomorrow, it will be clear.
they will be told about the republic, about liberty, equality
and fraternity. They will be reminded of how well respected and
admired the country that produced the rights of man is all around
the world. Tomorrow, the suburbs will be taken care of –
and just wait til you see how!
Minister has already set a date; every week he will visit a “sensitive
neighbourhood,” for this is the new name for working class
neighbourhoods. He’ll do what’s necessary. There will
be units of riot police and special intervention squads. And yet,
people were not asking so much: simply to be allowed to live.
Of course, this was doubtless asking too much.
Lévy is author of Le spectre du communautarisme (éditions