Frankrikes president Nicolas Sarkozy sier at regjeringen akter å slå hardt ned på de til dels lovløse tilstandene som hersker i forstaden Seine-Saint-Denis, like nord for Paris.
– Ingen by, intet nabolag, ingen bygning i Seine-Saint-Denis vil unnslippe loven, erklærte Sarkozy under et besøk i den kriminalitetsplagede forstaden.
Sarkozy’s visit came weeks after a crowded bus was attacked in the suburb of Tremblay-en-France in Seine-Saint-Denis and a gang of hooded youths threw Molotov cocktails at the bus. The driver managed to get all the passengers safely off the bus.
But the incident led bus drivers to briefly boycott routes in the troubled suburb.
The bus attack came days after police made a drugs bust in Tremblay-en-France, in which they seized several kilogrammes of cocaine, heroin and cannabis, and almost a million euros in cash.
On Tuesday, Sarkozy visited two bus depots in Seine-Saint-Denis. In an address to bus drivers, Sarkozy stressed that, «the violence in public transport and in schools in Seine-Saint-Denis must end».
The tougher law-and-order measures included the provision of about 600 additional video surveillance cameras and doubling the number of state inspectors to crack down on illegal businesses in the housing projects.
Sarkozy also said that the stopping of government subsidies to families who fail to send their children to school would become systematic and announced the creation of special schools for pupils who seriously disrupt school-time.
Men mens Sarkozy er opptatt av å utnevne personer med innvandrerbakgrunn til høyere regjeringsposter, noterer kommentatorer seg presidentens tale i Seine-Saint-Denis og spekulerer i Sarkozys «iver etter å tekkes velgere på høyresiden».
Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party is still reeling from an embarrassing defeat in recent regional elections – a poll that was also marked by the comeback of the far-right National Front party.
Dozens of protesters at Tremblay-en-France’s municipal building, mostly immigrant residents complaining about their treatment by local officials, were kept at bay with special security and extra police.