FRANCE: MINISTER ORDERS DEPORTATION OF FOREIGN RIOTERS
Paris, 9 Nov. (AKI) - The French interior minister has ordered the deportation of all foreigners arrested for taking part in the riots that have wracked the country over the last two weeks. Almost a thousand people have been arrested in the last three nights alone in violence which has mostly broken out in deprived areas with large African and Arab immigrant communities. Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial decision follows the granting of emergency powers to the police and local authorities to impose night-time curfews in an effort to tackle the unrest.
Since the government decree on the curfews came into force at midnight on Tuesday night a state of emergency has been declared in more than 30 towns and cities around France.
However, police said the level of violence nationwide was already lower than in previous nights, with only 600 cars torched, compared to 1,408 on Sunday night and 1,173 on Monday. On Sunday night two police officers were seriously injured in one Paris suburb when they were attacked by a mob of around 200, shooting and throwing stones.
The unrest began on 27 October in the impoverished Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, after two young people said to have been running away from the police were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station. The violence quickly spread to communities in other cities around France and claimed its first victim on Monday when a 61-year-old French man died, several days after he was beaten by a rioter while trying to protect his property.
The riots have sparked intense debate in France about integration. They have mostly taken hold in areas where unemployment is high and residents say they are the victims of discrimination and racism.
Sarkozy's order is sure to cause further controversy in France, where opposition parties have already expressed concern over the damage to civil liberties that the emergency powers represent. However, far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen told BBC radio he believes the rioters should have their French citizenship revoked. "If their grandparents came to France thinking France was an El Dorado, they can always go back to their countries of origin," he said.
\"six or seven men can plunge the nation into war, or, what is perhaps equally disastrous, commit it to entangling alliances without consulting Parliament at all.\"