I am fine. I have not heard hardly anything about the rioting. I returned form England on Sunday and didn't know anything about it until my Mum called, worried of course. I think there has been a little bit of trouble in Lyon actually but I have seen nothing. I live in one of the nicest, if not the nicest, areas of Lyon and it has all been very normal. Apparently there have been incidents in Place de Terreaux which is slightly north and across the river from me and in Venissiseux (south Lyon). Venissiseux is location of the first Youth Hostel that I stayed in and hated! I suspected it was not a good area and now it is confirmed!
I was trying to explain to my Mum that rioting over here is more common in my opinion. The French are very good at rioting and strikes and do both with a higher frequency then in Australia and America I think. When the French want something they do something about it. In the riots of Mai 1968, French students rioted over the arrests of other students/heavy handedness of police and brought the country to a standstill. The students involved the teachers and workers unions and rioted until dawn on May 10th, 1968. Burning cars, throwing paving stones and hundreds of arrests and injuries. 1 miilion people marched in the streets in protest and a week later ten million, or roughly two-thirds of the French workforce was on strike. They would never put up with the education reforms currently occuring in Australian Universities. So it is in France's history to riot. (More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_68)
Another problem it seems is the government’s lack of solution for this problem. Nothing is being done so the rioting continues. No promises are being made to the rioters, not that the government should succumb to rioting pressure but there is a huge social issue at hand that requires attention and has for sometime. The Immigrant population makes up a huge percentage of the poor in France and to be honest France doesn’t seem to have many programs, opportunities or aid. They are ignored and the anger currently being expressed has been simmering for decades. There is a huge unemployment rate here (30% of people 21-29 unemployed) and a lot of beggars on the streets. The areas affected by the rioting are the poor areas. Basically, the rioters are poor and victims of discrimination who are burning, well everything (cars, buses, schools) and lashing out (especially at authority figures who they resent due to the treatment they have received and lack of respect). They are not specifically targeting rich areas, property or people as far as I know. A interior minister, Mr Sarkozy, called the youth 'scum' and pledged a 'war without mercy' against them (apparently to get attention as he is keen to be the next president) but unfortunately as you can guess that only made the riots worse and didn't address the issues at hand.
I may go to Aix-Province which is an hour by train (still in France...not leaving again yet!) for the weekend with my French friend Claire, so I won't have to worry there....it's pretty small and supposed to be very nice. In the mean time I am living my life normally and keeping an eye out for anything abnormal. I will not venture into poorer areas as I have no reason to. As we all know I never want to go back to Venissiseux anyway. Never ever, with or without rioting. In fact if Venissiseux was the only place without rioting I don’t know if I would go. Currently, during the evenings my main goals are to get home from uni, find something to eat, get some work done (yes, actually working!), rest (I am avoiding a cold) sort out my life (usually on the computer- still fighting for subject approval with Melbourne University as at the moment my subjects are still unapproved) and/or visit friends so I will not be on the streets.
Never fear my loved ones!