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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 18:39 GMT
Anger grips Paris riot suburb
By Alasdair Sandford
BBC News, Clichy-sous-Bois, France

The evidence of the previous night's trouble is clear to see on the Bosquets estate.

A burnt-out van in Clichy-sous-Bois
Burnt-out vehicles and debris remain on Clichy's streets

Among the cars parked outside one block of flats are two burnt-out vehicles and small piles of debris. Rocks and stones are strewn across the street.

There is no sign of any security presence and people are shopping and chatting as on any normal day.

It does not take long to get a sense of the hostility some feel towards the police.

A driver pulls up in front of the market, his little boy strapped in the back of his car.

He admits belonging to a group that is sometimes a bit "chaud" - meaning troublesome - a hint at the unrest of the past few days.

He describes the nightly presence of the CRS, the French riot police, as provocation.

"If they didn't come here, into our area, nothing would happen," he says. "If they come here it's to provoke us, so we provoke back."

'Neglected people'

The French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has promised to send in special police units to "occupy" difficult estates, describing urban gangs as "rabble".

"We're not rabble," says the man, "we're human beings, but we're neglected."

Police search men in Clichy-sous-Bois
Clichy residents complain that police stop young people for no reason

Across the road from the market, 57-year-old Boubaker acknowledges that delinquency is a problem.

He often chides small groups of youths hanging around outside his flat. He agrees the police have a job to do, but says that often they are too aggressive and pick on the wrong targets.

His 19-year-old son is regularly stopped when out with friends - especially if they are black - by police who demand to see their ID.

"Each time he goes out he has to prove who he is," says Boubaker, "even right outside his own front door."

French mentality

Most families on the estate are originally from African countries. Unemployment is high and the area is poorly served by public transport.

Boubaker is Tunisian and has lived in France for 30 years. His eldest son is 29 but still lives at home because he cannot find affordable housing.

Map of Clichy

All four children are in work but their friends - again especially those who are black - have to make "hundreds" of job applications before getting an interview.

"It's the French mentality. They still haven't understood that even children with foreign origins have their place in society," says Boubaker. "They still think we're cleaners, and that's not good."

Nicolas Sarkozy has talked of the need to provide young people with job opportunities.

The interior minister is also an advocate of positive discrimination for ethnic minorities, and of voting rights for foreigners.

'People remember'

But for people in Clichy, what sticks out is the evocative language he has used to back his "zero tolerance" crime policy.

He once said an estate needed a "Kaercher clean", referring to the name of an industrial cleaning manufacturer.

Another man, at the market, says: "Immigrants came here after World War II to help rebuild France but he says their children need a 'Kaercher clean'. People remember that here."

And once again the conversation turns to the police.

"It's the way they stop and search people, kneeing them between the legs as they put them up against the wall. They get students mixed up with the worst offenders, yet these young people have done nothing wrong."

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