[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 18:55 GMT
France seeks to extend crisis law
French police on patrol
The unrest in rundown suburbs has gone into its 18th day
The French cabinet is seeking to extend by three months a state of emergency aimed at controlling suburban unrest.

Laws imposed last week to let councils impose curfews and ban rallies for 12 days are said to have been successful.

Parliament is expected to approve the extension on Tuesday while police say the unrest appears to be declining.

Several hundred people have gathered in central Paris to hear a speech by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

President Jacques Chirac, who has been criticised for his low profile during the crisis, is to speak on French television tonight in his first direct address to the French people on the violence.

After largely keeping silent on the riots which began on 27 October, Mr Le Pen has blamed the riots on "massive, uncontrolled immigration" from developing countries.

In a radio interview, the National Front leader called for stronger action against the rioters and said convicted rioters of foreign origin should be stripped of their French citizenship.

Mr Le Pen's critics have rounded on him, the BBC's Alasdair Sandford reports, arguing that many white French people have also taken part.

They also point out that many of those from immigrant backgrounds have been born and brought up in France, and that unemployment and social depravation are largely to blame for the trouble.


The cabinet approved on Monday morning a draft bill extending the emergency laws for three months from 21 November.

Cabinet can declare state of emergency in all or part of the country
Regional leaders given powers to apply curfew
Breach of curfew could mean jail sentence
Police can carry out raids on suspected weapons stockpiles
Interior minister can issue house-arrest warrants for those deemed dangerous to public safety
Public meeting places can be closed down
House searches possible
Authorities can control media, film and theatre performances
Can only be extended if approved by parliament

President Jacques Chirac told ministers that the extension would be "strictly temporary" and would be applied only where absolutely necessary.

French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope described the extension of emergency powers as a protective and precautionary measure.

The draft bill must be approved by parliament and will go before MPs in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

The BBC's David Chazan in Paris says it is likely to pass.

The laws allow local authorities to impose stringent security measures, including curfews and bans on public gatherings.

About 40 towns and cities have used the laws to introduce temporary curfews for minors. Paris banned public meetings on Saturday, over fears of violent demonstrations.

Downward trend

Unrest has persisted among communities of mainly Arab and African origin on rundown housing estates for 18 straight nights, since the accidental deaths last month of two teenagers who were reportedly trying to hide from police.

13 November: 284 cars
12 November: 374 cars
11 November: 502 cars
10 November: 463 cars
9 November: 394 cars
8 November: 617 cars
7 November: 1,400 cars

Police said 284 cars were set on fire overnight on Sunday, and 115 people were arrested.

Vandals rammed a car into a primary school in the southern city of Toulouse before setting the building on fire.

In northern France, arsonists set fire to a sports centre in the suburb of Faches-Thumesnil and a school in the town of Halluin.

The disturbances are France's worst since the 1968 student-worker protests.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific