Paris Riots in Perspective

ByABC News
November 4, 2005, 7:37 AM

Nov. 4, 2005 — -- The riots in the Paris suburbs highlights the many problems plaguing France's capital city, as well as the rapidly changing face of the nation.

Thirty-seven percent of all immigrants in France live in the Paris region, according to 1999 census data. Twenty-eight percent come from a European Union member country, 29 percent come from Northern Africa (Morocco), 15 percent come from another African country, 17 percent come from Asia and 7 percent come from a non-EU country.

In 1974, the government started limiting immigration, and the influx of immigrants dropped to 74,000 per year in 1997 from a high of 220,000 per year in the early 1980s.

Many of the men who had come to France to work brought over their wives and kids to live with them in their adopted country. Immigrants -- especially those from Africa -- had many more children than native French citizens, and often more than one wife (a 1993 law cracked down on polygamous marriages).

At the end of 1994, there were about 5 million people of Muslim descent living in France.

"Western Europe society has not managed to integrate second- or third-generation immigrants," said Scott Atran, Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

France has a chronic problem of not knowing how to shrug off the "ossified economic and political structure" that rules the country, he added.

Most tourists never travel to these suburbs, but the commuter train from the Charles-de-Gaulle airport to the center of Paris does stop at most of these places.

Protesters have used the internet to get other cities to join the fight, with the ultimate goal of making the evening newscast, according to French newspaper, Le Figaro. There has been mild trouble reported in other cities, including Marseilles, Dijon and Perpignan.

Sources: National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), Central Intelligence Agency