Day by Day

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

France has Urban Wastelands?

There was a verdict last week.

At the vast housing project where the girls lived and where the rapes occurred, the grounds are clean, even landscaped. The population is multiracial and multiethnic, blending both French-born citizens and immigrants from places like North and sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey and the Caribbean. Nearby are a butcher selling halal meat, an oriental pastry shop and coffeehouse, a laundromat, a health club and a supermarket — as well as drug dealers openly selling hashish.

Prejudice against the girls lingers. "What were the girls doing in the afternoons down in the basements?" asked a woman who lives on the first floor of the building. "Why did their parents let them go there? They know what happens if they follow the boys. They know what happens if they go to the basement."

The neighborhood butcher, from Algeria, talked about the suburb as a world apart. "If a girl goes out, she's going to get into trouble, especially with Arabs and blacks, because they are not used to seeing girls outside," he said. "The boys have needs. Where I come from, it's not normal that a girl goes out at night. If I tell my sister not to go out, she obeys me. This world is not like France."
A Crime of the Young Stalks France's Urban Wastelands

"This world is not like France."

Errrr, yeah.

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