Riots point to a France dividing along racial lines

French officials point to a host of causes — poverty, unemployment, the influence of criminal gangs — for rioting that erupted here this week, leaving charred vehicles on the streets.

But there’s one taboo issue that officially colorblind France has been unable to confront: race.

“Among the rioters, the very large majority come from immigrant backgrounds,” said Douhane Mohamed, a police commander. “Why? We mustn’t kid ourselves: there is a direct link between urban violence and ghettos, and the majority of people with immigrant roots live in ghettos.”


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