The state is dead, but we are not allowed to know. Hence the following official statement released this morning by the Belgian Ministry of the Interior: “On Saturday night the Brussels police detained about fifty people. Here and there cars were set alight. Nevertheless, the situation remained quiet.”
On Saturday night the Brussels police clashed with rioting “youths” in the center of the city. The authorities describe the events as “a game of cat and mouse.” In the course of this “game” five cars, two buses and a number of dustbins were set on fire. In Liège, the major city of Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, nine vehicles were torched, including a truck. The rest of Wallonia was “quiet” too. In Charleroi nine cars went up in flames, in Louvain-la-Neuve three and in Binche one. In Colfontaine a kindergarten was set alight. In Moeskroen, a town bordering France, a truck burned out after being hit by a molotov cocktail. The fire brigade had to protect the surrounding houses, but could not prevent damage to a nearby school and a butcher’s.
France was “quiet” as well. During the 17th consecutive night of rioting, 374 cars were torched and 212 people arrested. In Carpentras, where a mosque had been attacked on Friday night, a school burned down. Lyons, France’s second largest city, witnessed heavy fighting between “youth” and police yesterday afternoon. It was the first rioting in a city center since the French riots began more than two weeks ago. It was also the first rioting in broad daylight. The city center of Paris witnessed no incidents thanks to the deployment of 3,000 riot police, a quarter of all 12,000 officers that were deployed in the entire country yesterday.
One policeman was seriously wounded when he was hit in the face by a metal petanque ball thrown from a flat above. Dissatisfaction has been rising among the police. Yesterday Alliance, France’s largest police union, declared that the officers are “fed up” after the authorities imprisoned one officer and suspended four others for having beaten up a 19-year old immigrant. The incident was filmed by a TV crew. The immigrant involved complained he had been seriously hurt but was arrested a few hours later when throwing stones at firemen. The union is threathening that the officers will only perform “minimum service” if the authorities continue to “sacrifice” them. The police union is also upset because an officer in the northern town of Saint Quentin sustained severe burns in the face after having been hit by a molotov cocktail. From the first days of the riots the police have described the situation as one of “civil war” which they are not equipped to deal with.
Meanwhile, the judicial authorities in Tunisia have opened an investigation into the death of a 17-year old Tunisian-born boy, one of the two immigrant youths whose accidental electrocution on October 27 started the large-scale rioting. The boy was hiding from policemen in an electricity sub station. His father has asked the authorities in Tunisia to investigate the death of his son because he does not trust the French judicial authorities.
In Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, four cars were set ablaze last night. This appears to be the first incident of this kind in the Netherlands since the “civil war” started in France.