Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vive la Fra...l'Algerie?

For the second half of last week, I returned to Fos with Oma and Opa. Saturday I got to see Pauline, which was so much fun! I thought being in the same country as one of my best friends would mean hanging out more, but so far I’ve only seen her twice! I went to Marseille to see her and the day ended up being much more eventful than expected.

I drove myself to Marseille and when I got there, the route the GPS wanted me to take was blocked due to construction. The detour was a nightmare. What should have taken me five minutes to drive through took an HOUR AND A HALF. Why? This article sums it up:


I got to Marseille right as a huge riot erupted. While I was driving, I had no idea what was going on, but I was very literally scared for my life. The roads were completely blocked because thousands of Algerian immigrants were running around waving the Algerian flag, waving flaming torches, throwing objects, screaming, and honking. As I tried to drive down the clogged streets, people would hit my car. And all this because of a soccer match? Geez.

Anyway, it ended up being kind of serious. Before the day was over, the riot had spread all over Marseille. Cars were flipped, smoke bombs and rocks thrown at police and store windows, and the grand finale was that night as I was leaving: boats in the Vieux Port (the famous one from the Count of Monte Cristo) were lit on fire…two of them sunk.

For me, it was a really weird experience; for France, a huge frustration. I know that this riot was sparked by a soccer match, but I think it was propelled by underlying bitterness of the immigrants and their descendents towards French government and society. I really believe that tension is building (there is a huge debate right now about what the “French Identity” is and who belongs) and that a replay of the 2005 riots is bound to happen before long.

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