How ethnic is the present violence in France? Liberal commentators, both in France and abroad, tend to say that poverty and unemployment, rather than race or religion, are the driving force behind the riots. Mr. Villepin himself tends to share this view, at least in part. He said yesterday on TV that he is earmarking enormous credits for housing rehabilitation, education, and state-supported jobs in the areas where the unrest has developed. But the fact remains that only ethnic youths are rioting, that most of them explicitly pledge allegiance to Islam and such Muslim heroes as Osama bin Laden, that the Islamic motto - Allahu Akbar - is usually their war cry, and that they submit only to archconservative or radical imams.
The fact also remains, according to many witnesses, that the rioters torch only "white" cars, meaning white owned cars, and spare "Islamic" or "black" ones. One way to discriminate between them is to look for ethnic signs like a sticker with Koranic verses or a picture of the Kaaba in Mekka or a stylized map of Africa. Further evidence of the animating influence in the riots lies with the French rap music to which the perpetrators listen. Such music obsessively describes White France as a sexual prey.
Update: To contrast another viewpoint check out this Blogger in France. I disagree with his hypothesis of this being similar to both the racial and Viet Nam riots and protests of the 60's and 70's. The participants in those examples were not galvanized by a hateful religious doctrine. We also didn't have examples of protests in other parts of the world with a tie in like religion. And of course there is the glaring difference in the hatred, violence and pure evil of today's examples that have the Islamic link that didn't exist even on a small scale in the 60's and 70's.
Update: And yet another viewpoint more to my thinking again that my dad shot my way via the Washington Times.