When my car’s windows were smashed twice during the world cup in 1998, when I was living in 10th Arrondissement, I had my car repaired in a garage in Clichy.
I actually lived in a Banlieue for a couple of months before moving to the city . But “92”, or Val d’Oise, wasn’t what most people would expect a Banlieue to be like, maybe except for the mall, for the life that revolved around the local Auchan.
Still, today, seeing pictures from St. Denis, I am just as much at a loss of comprehension as most commentators who just open their drawers and recompile some standard arguments about economic problems, immigrant societies, and religious clashes. But in the end, all this is really just a lack of understanding.
Last night, the first cars were allegedly burnt in Berlin and Brussels. It suddenly looks like we do have a common European public sphere. And possibly a common European social model, all differences notwithstanding.
At this point, I don’t know what all this means. In France, the position of Mr Sarkozy is very much at stake. But what if he were to step down? A Presidential hopeful brought down by angry youth? It would probably be a new Europe thereafter.