At least 445 cars were torched over the night of New Year's Eve in France, a 20-per-cent rise on last year, but there were relatively few clashes with police, the Interior Ministry and police said today.
Car burnings are regular occurrences in France but the registering the New Year's Eve total has become something of a tradition since they achieved symbolic status in the violent rioting that shook many of the country's poor suburbs in 2005.
With riots in Athens heightening worries that the economic crisis might spark a resurgence of the violence seen in the run-down "banlieues" then, 35,000 police were mobilised on New Year's Eve, some 7,000 more than last year.
"There were few 'contacts' with police, gendarmes and fire services but an increase in the number of burnings for which we don't have an explanation at the moment," the official said.
There were around 50 burnings in the eastern city of Strasbourg, where police made 17 arrests, including four people caught while setting fire to cars.
Why won't anyone mention who burns cars in France on a regular basis? "Youths" - yea right. Some people were caught - but motives cannot be told? So they won't mention that the ones caught are Muslim, and I only assume that they're Muslim because when the riots broke a couple of years ago most torches were chanting "Allah Akbar". I would gladly correct my title if anything would prove it wrong.