The Corner

French Youths Celebrate New Year by Torching 1,193 Cars

Under France’s new socialist government, “youths” in the banlieues of Paris and Strasbourg continued their custom of ringing in the new year by setting cars ablaze.

Hundreds of empty, parked cars go up in flames in France each New Year’s Eve, set afire by young revelers, a much lamented tradition that remained intact this year with 1,193 vehicles burned, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday.

His announcement was the first time in three years that such figures have been released. The conservative government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy had decided to stop publishing them in a bid to reduce the crime — and not play into the hands of car-torching youths who try to outdo each other.

It does not appear that Sarkozy’s strategy was all that effective: The young revelers this year outdid their last publicly reported effort in 2009 by 46 cars. 

By way of background, the AP report explains that torching cars “became a voice of protest during the fiery unrest by despairing youths from housing projects that swept France in the fall of 2005.”

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