Today the French authorities closed down the website of “Tribu Ka”, a group of French black Muslims. The website contained anti-Semitic texts [some of which are quoted here]. Last Sunday evening about thirty members of Tribu Ka, armed with bats and sticks, staged a march through the Rue de Rosiers in the historic Jewish quarter of Paris, shouting “Death to Jews” and “Let the Jews fight us if they dare!”
Tensions between black Muslim immigrants and French Jews have been rising since another black gang, who call themselves “the Barbarians,” kidnapped Ilan Halimi, a 21-year old Jew, last February. Halimi was tortured for three weeks and subsequently murdered. Youssouf Fofana, the imprisoned leader of the gang that murdered Halimi, is acclaimed as a hero by groups such as Tribu Ka. Tribu Ka was founded by Kami Saba [Kémi Séba], a black Parisian who says he has been inspired by the Black Muslims in the United States.
Though a police officer admitted that the authorities knew the “tribe” was going to march through the Jewish neighbourhood last Sunday, as “it had been announced on the Tribu Ka internet site,” twenty minutes lapsed before the police arrived. According to a Jewish source a senior police officer, called to account by angry inhabitants of the Rue de Rosiers, said that the police “had received instructions from the top not to intervene.” The French authorities apparently did not want to provoke the thugs. As a result some Jews openly wonder whether the Jewish community should not organize its own militia.
The authorities fear that provoking the thugs could trigger a new round of urban violence, similar to last November’s riots, in predominantly immigrant suburbs of major cities across France. The situation in the “banlieus” appears to be tense again. On Monday night around a hundred youths clashed with French police after setting fire to cars and rubbish bins in Clichy-sous-Bois, a Parisian suburb that was the scene of violence in November.
In nearby Montfermeil, seven police officers were injured while protecting the house of Xavier Lemoine, the mayor of Montfermeil, which was attacked after the mayor had forbidden youths between 15 and 18 to gather in groups of more than three. “The violence shows that the life of my family, my wife and my seven children, is threatened,” Mr Lemoine, a member of France’s governing UMP party, said. As in November, the immigrant “youths” want to make it clear that their law rules in the suburbs, not the law of the French Republic.
An opinion poll published today indicates that 31% of the French hope that the anti-immigrant politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the Front National, will stand as a candidate for the presidential elections next year. If Le Pen, who is already 77 years old, does stand, 36% expect him to get to the second round, where the voters can only choose between the two most popular candidates. In 2002 Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential elections, to the great surprise of the French media, the political pundits and the pollsters.
Le Nouvel Observateur, a leftist publication which published the poll, commented that if Le Pen makes it to the second round in 2007, “offering the whole world the sad spectacle of a disfigured France where the extreme right is the second largest political force in the country, this will be even worse than in 2002.” According to the poll 83% of the French consider Le Pen to be rude, 81% say he is a racist and 53% call him a demagogue. On the other hand, however, 68% say he is a man of convictions and 64% say that he is the only politician to address certain specific problems.
In neighbouring Spain a poll published on Monday also indicated growing dissatisfaction with immigration. 70% of the Spanish say that there are too many immigrants in the country.