chapter  9
Contemporary French and British Urban Riots: An Exploration of the Underlying Political Dimensions
Pages 14

There were two major features of the French urban riots of October-November 2005 that made them unique in the nation’s post-war history. In the first place, rather than lasting for two or three days, which had been the norm for previous confrontations, the riots of 2005 continued to reoccur and proliferate for three weeks. Secondly, in contrast to earlier French riots that had taken place and had been contained in particular localities, the 2005 disorders encompassed a much wider geographical area. Having initially broken out in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of Clichy-sous-Bois, rioting then developed in adjoining parts of the capital before spreading right across the country. In all, nearly 300 towns in 200 major cities experienced disorder during this period; over 10,000 cars were ‘torched’, and damage to property and buildings, including a number of mosques, synagogues and churches, exceeded 200 million euros (Jobard, 2008; BodyGendrot, 2007; Koff and Duprez, 2009; Mucchielli, 2009). Indeed, observers have suggested that these riots constituted the most important social upheaval since the student protests of May 1968 (Koff and Duprez, 2009, p. 714).