I have always found it painful to watch riots. Why are energetic young people so angry? The rioters in France appear to be immigrants from former French colonies. Most of them are French citizens but many of them do not appear to feel they are accepted as nationals. Integration or the lack of it is what defines the challenge for many governments. Today's nation states, especially those in the West, are more porous and mixed than ever before, and have become multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. This is bound to alter one's sense of national identity. The trouble is citizenship may no longer coincide with that identity. Governments do realize this, hence there are assimilation programmes for immigrants with various degrees of success. I suspect these riots are a reminder to the Europeans that they need to do much more to reconcile differences with their non-European citizens. In China, the rising number of unrests have to do with unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities. It is just as painful to see young people being denied a full education and know that in the years to come, they will fall further back in the development trajectory. How can we get mothers to unite, who can speak to the world on the needs of the young so that we do not disappoint them?
France torn by riots in the poorer suburbs of Paris.
8 November 2005