Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Grand Redesign for Paris

Leftist but interesting. From The New York Review of Books:
In medieval times, the banlieue designated a one-league-wide ring outside a feudal lord’s fortress-city over which his interdictions, or bans, applied. Over the past several decades, the word has too often meant a place of banishment.

During the 1950s and 1960s, immigrants from former French colonies in Africa and the Maghreb found work in postwar suburban factories and housing in vast subsidized apartment blocks. When the factories closed in the 1980s and 1990s, these immigrants were left marooned, cut off from the rest of French society and bereft of adequate public services. A generation of frustrated youth grew up that felt, not unreasonably, abandoned by the French republic and discriminated against for their Muslim names, their darker skin, their poverty, and their lack of skills. In 2015, Philippe Galli, then the police commissioner of Seine-Saint-Denis, estimated the Muslim population of the department at 700,000, or about 45 percent of the population. Muslims make up less than 9 percent of France’s total population of 65 million. In Seine-Saint-Denis, one third of the population is poor—the highest share in the greater Paris area, and in France overall—with the proportion of people living below the poverty line in some public housing complexes reaching as high as 60 percent. Unemployment in Seine-Saint-Denis is over 12 percent, and nearly 30 percent of young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four are unemployed. (Read more.)

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