Ten years after riots, French suburb struggles to move on
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Ten years ago, the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois made headlines in France and around the world. It was there that an unprecedented wave of violence – which was to spread all over France – began. A decade later, our reporters went back to the town to take the temperature.
Clichy-sous-Bois, a small suburban town east of Paris, was the starting point for France’s worst rioting in decades. On October 27, 2005, two teenagers – Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traor, 15 – died after being electrocuted in an electricity substation where they were trying to hide from police, who were chasing them.
Clashes between young people and police broke out immediately. The riots soon spread across France. For three weeks, working-class neighbourhoods were ablaze. A state of emergency was even declared at one stage.
Clichy-sous-Bois reluctantly became a symbol of urban decay, a poor and isolated suburb with run-down housing estates where unscrupulous landlords ran rampant. The town is still seen as a sort of magnifying mirror representing the "malaise" of the suburbs that France is desperately trying to heal.
Since 2005, Clichy-sous-Bois has been undergoing a metamorphosis. An unprecedented urban renewal plan, which the government had put in place before the riots, has played a large part. Investment has reached 670 million euros.
However, some areas are still lagging behind. Impatience and disillusionment often give way to anger.
Despite the difficulties, women and men including elected officials, shopkeepers and members of local associations are fighting for their town. FRANCE 24’s Jonathan Walsh went to meet them.