© ang-st, photo from Anti-Austerity Protest, March, London.

taken from public intelligence

“When riots broke out in Paris in 2005, the Muslim-haters, such as Fox Cable News, blamed Islam. But there too, the issue was not religion, as almost all French recognized immediately. The issue was youth unemployment.

Likewise, the Tottenham riot was not about culture. African-Carribeans are Christians and are not pushing for a Talmud or a sharia. (Some Muslim communities may get caught up in the wave of rioting, but as I will argue, it will be because of issues other than their religion).

It is not completely clear what is driving the looting that has come in the wake of the rioting. It could just be opportunism (a wave of looting once swept New York City just because the lights went out because of a problem in the electrical grid). Some of the arson seems mindless, but then the US saw similar things in the late 1960s. When people hate their lives, they sometimes lash out, even at the few nice buildings in their neighborhood. The looting may also be organized crime (and some of the arson and sabotage may be intended to cover for looting and burglary by these gangs). The looting is not the main issue, in any case; it is rather the demonstrations and riots that have created the conditions of which looters have taken advantage.

Muslim immigrant communities are not distinctive in their problems (nor in their successes) from other immigrant communities. It isn’t about a clash of cultures or civilizations. It is about access to the mainstream economy, employment, and, as I said, a feeling of being treated fairly by the government and the society–a feeling that the law applies equally to everyone and is applied in a transparent and even-handed way.”

excerpt from Juan Cole’s text here

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