Paris is still on fire

Paris is still on fire

The capital city of France keeps on burning.

Surely, there are many reasons for this fire that started in the suburbs and spread to the center of Paris.

Social injustice, police brutality, integration problems of migrant children, lack of education, exclusion, harsh conditions in the suburbs, economic crisis, etc.

The most important reason, maybe the root cause, dates back 400 years.

This fire began when the French took the first step to exploit Africa…

And today, the flames have engulfed not only the capital Paris, but also almost all cities…

Unorganized, devoid of any ideological and conscious, young people clash with the police on the streets, setting fire to government buildings, cars, and shops. They loot whatever they can find…

While they don’t chant political slogans, they curse with all their anger and relentlessly attack like Don Quixote’s fight against windmills…

Just like others, it is possible that this politically aimless wave will crash against the tough walls of the French state and extinguish.

But one thing is certain: this fire, which reached its peak in Africa in the 60s, let many African nations break free from French chains.

If this fire can find an ideological path in the coming years, then its sparks can leap into the elegant corridors of the Élysée Palace…

And if these demonstrations, rooted in anti-colonialism, converge with movements like the Yellow Vests that fight against liberalism, then the time may come to speak of new Bastilles…

Without further ado…

I wrote the following during another “uprising” in Paris in 2020.

Today, we are experiencing a similar one.

I believe it is worth presenting the text to the readers once again.


Footage from France is being shown across Turkish TV screens, showing a group of young people raiding the police station in Champigny-sur-Marne, a city near Paris, while blowing up fireworks.

The attack lasts for minutes, after which the group of young people disappears into the darkness of the city.

Those who know France well, should know that there are dozens of suburbs where police cannot even take a step outside of the station, can only conduct operations inside armored vehicles, and constantly get household items thrown at them from the rooftops.

Many of those who came from the former colonies to France to make a living were placed in these suburbs from the 1960s onwards, especially in and around Paris.

The immigrants in the suburbs went on with their lives separated from the so-called “purer race”, and away from the glamour of Paris, Eiffel Tower and the River Seine.

‘Here we drown Algerians’

During the war in Algeria, Algerian rebels organized resistance in these regions in the name of the National Liberation Front.

The largest event that took place during the resistance was the events of October 17, 1961, which was recorded in history as the “Paris Massacre”.

Tens of thousands of North Africans took to the streets of Paris to protest the atrocities of the French Army in Algeria.

An angry mob has marched through the city with anthems, slogans in Arabic, and banners.

The French government’s answer to the demonstration was harsh. Police and state-sponsored far-right groups went on an offensive. The violence went on throughout the night. In the morning, Paris woke up to 40 dead according to the government’s claims, but likely closer to 300 dead, according to figures from the demonstrators themselves.

Dozens of demonstrators of North African descent were killed and thrown with their hands and legs cuffed into the River Seine, the same place where tourists walk along today blissfully unaware.

On the spectacular walls of the Saint Michel Bridge, which connects the two sides of the Seine River, “Here we drown Algerians” was written in red paint.

Today, the red paint on the walls of the bridge still remains, but the French authorities, curious about the history, do not even bother or want to erect a statue in memory of the atrocities. They even denied the fact that people had lost their lives in these events until 1998.

‘Everything is fine so far’

Time has passed and the children of those immigrants have grown up. Most of them have attained French citizenship, but they continue to live in those suburbs. Although those who live inside metropolitan Paris and those who live in the suburbs around the city share the same public areas, they remain people from two different worlds.

When I first entered the faculty of law in Paris, what surprised me the most was that the students were separated from each other according to their skin color at break times.

Even though the students started to get to know each other after many years, the freshmen students were always separated in the same way; Arabs with other Arabs, black people with other black people, Jews with other Jews and whites with other whites…

The French State has never managed to integrate these different groups into the society; perhaps it never wanted to.

In the regions where workers made up the majority, the leftist and anti-imperialist tradition weakened, the drug culture and religious groups have increased, as they have in the rest of the world.

While some of these young people fell into the trap of drug addiction, those on the other side were caught by the networks of jihadist groups through the mosques funded by the Gulf countries.

Today, many of the young French citizens fighting on behalf of ISIS and other jihadist groups in the Middle East were the results of this process.

The suburbs’ fight against the state institutions went on in the meanwhile, and new riots broke out in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The 1995 film La Haine, (The Hate), reveals this situation in the suburbs clearly.

The anecdote in the film sums up the situation that France has fallen into today; “Heard about the guy who fell off a 50-story tall skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall does not matter. It is how you land!”

France has now completed its 50-year long decline, and is now smacking the ground with such incredible impact it would even impress the aesthetic-obsessed French intellectuals.

The fireworks that are exploding in the police station resemble the show lights that make this moment even more spectacular.

Similar clashes are taking place throughout all of the Western civilization.

As the rulers lose their power, not only the suburbs, but many different communities are starting to rebel and take to the streets.

While in the heartlands of capitalism, rumors of civil wars had been little more than that, they have since become a part of everyday politics.

The large masses are trying to navigate a physical and psychological crisis.

It is impossible for Emmanuel Macron, a Rothschild’s banker who was raised in the high-rises, to respond to the outrage that has been rising for decades and which is exploding today.

The situation he put himself into with the rebellion of the French middle class, the “Yellow Vests” movement, is quite obvious.

In terms of foreign policy, it is clear that France has lost its influence in Africa and is now a puppet for the US-Israeli politics in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East.

During my first year in Paris while I was looking for some interesting books in one of the bookstores near the Seine River, I started to talk about politics with the elder bookstore owner, probably because of the book by Franz Fanon, which I had opened.

While I was trying to show of my 16th-century French language skills that I had learned in Istanbul, the old man leaned onto my ear and said: “I do not care after being this old, even if they accuse me of being an anti-Semite, I must tell the truth, France has become a US-Israeli colony.”

I started to better understand what the old man said when I looked at the actions of leaders who came to power during my stay in France, such as Sarkozy, Hollande and finally Macron.

We should seriously consider this old man’s words as we observe the actions Macron’s France is taking against Türkiye.

Another important point in evaluating relations with France is accurately analyzing the contradictions between the significant majority of the French nation who still believe in the Revolution of 1789, and their rulers who have already surrendered to the capitalist centers.

Not only Macron, but others like him in the old continent will be isolated when Türkiye pursues a policy that avoids generalizations and carefully observes the political cracks in Europe.

Humanity is in search of a lighthouse that will illuminate its routes in the dark open seas.

Onur Sinan Güzaltan
Onur Sinan Güzaltan was born in Istanbul in 1985. He had his Bachelors's degree in Law, from the Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne Universty /Paris XII and a Master's degree in International and European Law. He got his certificate of diploma equivalence at Galatasaray University. Later, he got a Master's degree in International Trade Law, at the Institut de Droit des Affaires Internationales, founded jointly by the Sorbonne Universty and the Cairo Universty. In this process, he had served as the Cairo representative for the Aydinlik Newspaper. He has several articles and television streams within the international press, in such as People's Daily, Al Yaum, Al Ahram, Russia Today FranceAl Youm Al Sabea. In addition to being the author of the Tanrı Bizi İster Mi?, a work that studies the 2011-2013 political period in Egypt, he had also contributed to the multi-author study titled Ortadoğu Çıkmazında Türkiye, with an article that focused on the Turkish-Egyptian relations. While currently working as a lawyer, he also writes a weekly column for Aydinlik Newspaper on the subject of international politics and geopolitics.

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May 2024