We talk a lot about insecurity in France at the moment. Some say that crime is on the increase, others that is a statistical illusion. We say that people live in fear but some accuse the media of creating fear by talking about the phenomenon on the television and in the newspapers with sensational reporting.

What is the truth? We talked to a group of young people in the district of Lyon called La Duchere, an area with a reputation. Here is what they told us:

It is the media which talks the things up, which have you see things in another way. They tackle the subject every time, insecurity, insecurity… and those who want to be President [1], well they base their election on that too. It is so that people will vote for them, well, like Le Pen[2], Chirac [3], like… And then we see that for five years, the stated does nothing. It does nothing at all. He has made lots of promises, Chirac [3], he has done nothing. but then I think that he has managed to save himself all right. We didn’t have a choice, it was either a crook of a fascist. We had to take the crook then. That was it then.

Personally there is nothing in it… It’s quiet. I know that there isn’t any insecurity here. Personally, we don’t have anything. It is maybe old people. You should go and see them.

It is really fear, because they exaggerate it a bit. It is true that there is some insecurity but it is rare.

It is the young people, they are amusing themselves but they are not doing any harm, right. It is all exaggerated really.

It is true, there are some things which go on, it’s normal, it’s like that everywhere. Everywhere is the same. It’s normal. We call these neighbourhoods, the poor districts, these are here. So it stands to reason that these things which go on can’t find elsewhere. You go to Mont d’Or [4] you won’t find it there, that doesn’t happen.

Because they have jobs, because the kids are out of doors, they don’t do anything. the majority of them are playing football as you see, but that’s all. there aren’t any other pastimes, right.

I think that they ought to help the young, and all that… giving them some support, finding some jobs and all that…

But the kids, you’ve got to support them. You’ve got to support kids, you’ve got to give them something to keep them busy, that’s all.

Personally I think Le Pen got through because there were a lot of abstentions, there were a lot of people who did not vote and then the old felt threatened being near the young in the cities and so it was them, they were the ones who voted the most for the National Front. And then I think that… well there you are. Look at what we are living in. Chicken coops. Here is a bit inner city, right, that’s what it is.

Yes for many people, for many young people it’s hard to find jobs, year… Especially the young between 20 and 25, there are many of them who are unemployed.

All the young people, the young at sixteen are no longer at school. At fifteen they have already left.

At school they don’t keep the young busy enough, that’s all. The foreigners are seen as bad here, but you mustn’t believe that; in the school they put sticks in your wheels [5], you mustn’t dream.

You must try to understand it. It doesn’t just happen by chance. A young man wants to leave school, what’s he stopping for. Yeah, you’re being expelled because you have insulted the head teacher, that’s all. He’s expelled, he’s screwed. It’s… no job, no school, nothing. What’s he going to do? He goes out, that’s normal, he has to find something to eat. Being on the street everyday, he must also… so next, the guy, what’s he going to do, he’s going to take up smoking, drinking like everyone and then that’s it.

But no, the teachers, what do they stop at? He insulted me, that’s good; we don’t talk any more about it. You were expelled and we don’t talk any more about it. It’s not that, a kid, he makes some mistakes, you must understand him and then it’s all, you must find a solution other than expelling him, that’s all.

The parents, well listen, the parents play the role that they have to play. A kid, we give him an education, we give him an education… when he does not want to listen, he does not listen. There are some hot heads, you can’t believe it. Here, right here, they focus on what? They focus on the young who are failing. But they are not only the young who are failing; you must not have some dreams about them either.

We talk a lot about the young and all that… but when you look at the people from Corsica [6] what they are going, we talk more about the young, but there it is even worse. They dare to go to the Hotel Matignon [7] to arrange things with them, and we here, they only send us the guys from the CRS [8]. That is normal. They are making arrangements with men who blow up houses and all that… and I don’t understand it at all. The state takes on the weakest. The weakest are those, who are in the banlieues [9], who are disadvantaged, who don’t have any money and then, well they don’t even have the money to pay a lawyer. And I think that for a new job there is a lot of racism too. A lot of racism when they say his name, well the guy who if I said it to him, I don’t know, I’m called Rachid or something, Bin Laden, it’s over for him. There is a lot of that too. That’s not right though.

There are some bars, today, like in prison, like that now, which close people in. We would say real prisons. They put us behind bars for… doing that serves no good purpose at all. They have to pay our parents for places where it is impossible to lives because they have also added the bard which ensure nothing!

Instead of putting in bars they ought to put in a football pitch, so that the kids can have a place to play.

I don’t know where they get those crazy ideas. I don’t know how they think.

The left, that’s over with Gerard Collomb [10], it has been fifty years with the left. That guy, he came here, he sent us 42 [officers from the] CRS, [television] cameras everywhere.

How did they show us? They showed us as guys who deal in drugs, who screw things up, who burn cars. They show us like that on television, so, so that the French people watching will say “yeah, these young people, we should put them in prison”, but in fact, things don’t happen like that. They don’t show the good young people, those who are working, those who are well behaved, those who are playing football, they showed what they want and that, that’s not right.

Personally I think that the more that things go on like this, they are leading right to a catastrophe.

[1] President – This article was recorded shortly after the Presidential election of 2002 won by President Chirac.

[2] Jean-Marie Le Pen is the leader of the National Front Party, a far right wing party whose policies are viewed as extremist. In the first round of the Presidential election he came second and won the right to oppose President Chirac in the second round, a contest which President Chirac won easily. His policies are likened to those of the Fascist parties of the 1930s in Germany and Italy.

[3] Jacques Chirac was the President of France 1995-2007. He won elections in 1995 and 2002, despite having a reputation of being dishonest.

[4] Mont D’or is a fashionable village near Lyon.

[5] ‘Sticks in your wheels’ is literally what the French says but it means to prevent you from doing something, rather like the expression ‘sticks in your spokes’.

[5] ‘Sticks in your wheels’ is literally what the French says but it means to prevent you from doing something, rather like the expression ‘sticks in your spokes’.

[6] Corsica is a large island in the Mediterranean which is part of France. The inhabitants have a reputation for being rather wild.

[7] Hotel Matignon is the official residence of the Prime Minister, and therefore the seat of government in France.

[8] CRS is the Compagnie Republicaine de Securite which is the riot control forces of the French National Police.

[9] The banlieues are the outlying areas of French cities, generally populated by poor people living in high rise apartment blocks. Many of the people are immigrants, or the succeeding generations of immigrants who came to France during the second half of the 20th century. Unemployment is high, and living conditions are hard.

[10] Since 2001 Gerard Collomb has been Mayor of Lyon. He is the leader of the left of centre political parties in Lyon. In 2008, he won a further term of six years in office.

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