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.”