CLICHY-SOUS-BOIS, France – In the United States, the word “suburb” may conjure up images of bedroom communities with neat, tree-lined streets and good schools – a haven from the hustle and flow of city life. Not so in France. This Paris suburb ( banlieue ), a tinderbox of crime, sky-high youth unemployment and minority disaffection, spectacularly burst into flames last fall as riots gripped hundreds of ghettoes across France. Unrest, though less severe, again plagued Paris suburbs last week. Among other issues, the fury in the streets among the mostly Muslim youth has underscored the lack of political representation for this growing segment of French society. The National Intelligence Council estimates that Western Europe’s Muslim population, which is now as high as 20 million, will more than double by 2025. Coupled with a graying indigenous population, that would mean the continent’s largest population shift in centuries. France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe at 6 million (out of a population of around 60 million), although precise figures are hard to come by because the state officially does not tally ethnicity or religion. Yet, none of the 555 deputies in the French National Assembly is Muslim. […]

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