A month after the two day riots of July 19 to 20, the French daily Le Monde re-narrates the story of France’s second suburban riot of the 21st century. The violence started following the stop and search of a 21-year-old Muslim woman in a niqab in the priority neighbourhood of Mersiers in Trappes (Yvelines). Her 20-year-old husband intervened when the police is alleged to have insulted the woman and was taken to the station for having attempted to strangulate one of the officers. Like many other suburbs in the vicinity of Paris, the tension between youths and the police has been well established, but what made this summer’s riots however distinct from others was the religious identity and solidarity which mobilized people and remained absent in previous episodes of urban violence. The paper continues to reason this religious force as the result of the growth of Islamophobia in front of the eyes of many of the neighbourhood’s residents who are of North African and Sub-Saharan origin. Few weeks prior to the 21-year-old Muslim woman’s stop and search, a number of stop and search actions of Muslim women have shocked the Muslim community and left deep traces of anxiety and anger amongst people.
Aggravated about the officer’s conduct and the arrest of her husband, the 21-year-old Muslim woman contacted her local mosque. Rumours about the most recent law enforcement against veiled Muslims women started to circulate amongst the community following Friday prayer. The local mosque is described by Le Monde as ultraorthodox in its preaching and tremendously popular amongst young Muslims who find ‘cohesion’ in the religious community. After Friday prayer, a group of 20 people, including the female victim, went to the police commissariat to demand the release of the husband. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs interprets the chain of events differently. According to them, a group of Salafist were to be found in front of the commissariat. ‘Half of them’ were known to the police and are said to have threatened the authorities with actions
The tension couldn’t be ceased and the police ordered reinforcements. By 5 PM, representatives of the mosque arrived at the commissariat to calm the community in vain. A new protest was announced by 8.30 PM via SMS. It is believed that many of the protestors were mobilized by a number of SMS which circulated throughout the hours following the arrest. No calls for violence were, however, made. At 8.30 PM some 150 people gathered in front of the commissariat which included residents of Trappes but also people from other areas of the Greater Parisian Region (Ile-de-France).
Anti-riot police arrived when the tension reached its climax. Three people approached the police when one police officer insulted men wearing traditional clothing. Mortar fireworks started to be shot from the crowds landing at the feet of the police. The riots suddenly began and took place over two days leading to multiple injuries and immense material damage.
For many residents of Cherries, the clashes of that night are the result of an almost inevitable social slippage. Since August 13, few weeks after the riots, a new path of approaching the Muslim community of Trappes has been introduced in local authorities