Thursday, October 15, 2009

riots rattled ancient french town

Washington Post | Under a bright autumn sun, the narrow lanes of ancient Poitiers teemed with families enjoying a lighthearted celebration of street theater. Suddenly, a knot of black-clad youths emerged from the crowd. They donned plastic masks, pulled up their hoods and started destroying everything in sight.

In what police described as an organized attack, the band shattered store windows, damaged the facades of several banks and spray-painted anarchist slogans on government buildings. Aiming even at the historical heritage of this comfortable provincial town 200 miles southwest of Paris, they fractured a plaque commemorating Joan of Arc's interrogation here in 1429 and -- in Latin -- scrawled "Everything belongs to everybody" on a stone baptistery that is one of the oldest monuments in Christendom.

The wanton destruction, which lasted for about 90 minutes early Saturday evening, was a dramatic reminder that France and other European nations, below their surface of stability and wealth, harbor tiny bands of ultra-leftist activists who still want to combat the market economies and parliamentary democracies on which the continent's well-being is founded.

"We will destroy your morbid world," one of the Poitiers protesters sprayed-painted on a wall near the city's landmark Notre Dame Cathedral.