Saturday, November 13, 2004

Island Crucible

The separatists of Corsica have expanded their war against France. They are now attacking North African immigrants (in English) who have taken up residence on the island:
... The inhabitants of a peaceful, suburban neighbourhood of the northern city of Bastia repair the walls around their gardens. They were damaged when a huge blast destroyed the house next door. The owner of what is now just a charred ruin of twisted metal and rubble is a Moroccan tile worker. He had almost finished building the villa of his dreams. Meanwhile, estate agents in Bastia have been warned: Don’t sell to North Africans or face the consequences.

Beneath one of the splendid Baroque churches of Bastia, most of the stall-holders and most of the customers at the market are North Africans. To the outsider, it seems to be a place where the cultures of the two sides of the Mediterranean can mingle under the shade of the plane trees.

But the reality is much darker: it is a community in trauma. The area is full of destruction: torched cars, a bombed out pizza parlor, bank and shops. This is part of 56 acts of violence against the island’s North African community over the past year -- as many as in the whole of the rest of France put together. Two underground nationalist groups called the Clandestini Corsi and the MCA that emerged this year have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks, which, they said, are aimed against the drug trade.

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