November 17, 2005

Polygamy and race in France

A reader writes:

Your quote about French riots and polygamy is interesting, but as a Frenchman I can tell you that the majority of the people who practice polygamy in France are from muslim sub-saharan Africa (like Mali and Senegal) not North-Africa. In fact polygamy is much more widespread in sub-saharan Africa, even when the countries are christian than in North-Africa or Middle East, with the exception of the Arabian peninsula.

In the ultra-politically-correct-never-talk-about-race country like France, what the right-wing deputies wanted to say when they said that "polygamy is the problem" is "black people are the problem" since the majority of the rioters were of Black ancestry. This is why there relatively few riots in Marseille or Lyon, these cities have many Arabs but few Blacks, compared to Paris. So the riots are more related to I.Q. and race than to religion in my humble opinion.

Massive polygamy is rare in the Arab world because it's hard to afford in a culture where men are supposed to be providers and women are supposed to stay home and not work in the money economy. In contrast, in much of sub-Saharan Africa, men are less concerned about insuring that their wives' children really belong to them because they don't contribute as much to their upkeep. It's the mother's job to earn enough to feed her children.

Similarly, Martin Walker wrote for UPI:

AUBERVILLIERS, France (UPI) -- It still smells of smoke along the Rue Henri-Barbusse in the French suburb of Aubervilliers, but the skeletons of burned-out cars are cold now and look oddly like randomly parked pieces of modern sculpture in the shadow of the giant Quatre-Chemins housing estate that saw some of the worst riots in the two-week spasm of riots that swept France.

The sullen faces that gaze on the handiwork of the local rioters and sneer at the vans of the riot police are black rather than brown: Africans from Mali and Martinique rather than Arabs from Algeria and Morocco.

Dressed in expensive sneakers and track suits with designer logos, with the white wires of iPod headphones snaking from their ears, they look neither poor nor much intimidated by the police patrols that now dominate their quarter. The young blacks refuse to talk to white reporters, turning silently away to spit and talk among themselves.

'You (expletives) wouldn`t dare show your faces round here if it wasn`t for the (expletive) cops,' says one, using the slang term 'keufs' for the police.

He may be right. Taxi drivers will not come here. Black adults seem cowed by the gangs of their own young people, glancing at them nervously if they stop to talk.

'We still have to live here when this is all over,' muttered Bakil Anelka, who came to France eight years ago from Ivory Coast and works as a cleaner for the Metro. 'The police will not stay here forever, but the gangs will still be here, back in charge of this district. As soon as I can, I`m moving. I don`t want my kids to grow up here.'

One of the striking features of the two weeks of rage that swept France is that so many of the rioters are black rather than Arab, though North Africans from Algeria and Morocco and Tunisia make up more than two-thirds of the estimated 6 million immigrants, their families included, in France.

Another important element is that in places where the rioters were 'beurs,' as the French Arabs call themselves, Islam and religion seemed to play only a minor role. A tear gas bomb fired into the mosque of Clichy-sous-Bois on the first day of the riots infuriated local Muslims, but there have been no Islamic slogans and no taunts against the French as Christians. They are identified instead, by young blacks and beurs alike, as the Gaulois, the Gauls, a taunting reference to the way French primary schools traditionally begin their history lessons with the phrase 'Our ancestors, the Gauls...'

Local Islamic leaders who tried to calm the young mobs have been routinely ignored, as have the fatwas issued by the leading Imams saying rioting and attacks on innocent people are against Islam...

Experts who work with France`s black community point to a different kind of family breakdown. Sonia Imloul of Respect 93, a non-governmental organization, says one of the biggest problems is polygamy, and cites the example of one family she knows with one father, four wives and thirty children, all living in the same standard 4-room apartment of French public housing.

'The kids sleep in shifts, and when others are asleep, they are on the streets because there is nowhere else to go,' she says, adding the new curfew imposed under the government's state of emergency regulations is simply adding to the pressure.

But I still want to know why there wasn't much looting.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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