January 5, 2006


Gang terrorizes train in France (Marc Burleigh, January 5, 2006, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

A gang of more than 20 youths -- thought to be North African immigrants -- terrorized hundreds of train passengers in a rampage of violence, robbery and sexual assault on New Year's Day, French officials said yesterday.

Youth Rampage on Train Leaves France Aghast: Officials are blamed for New Year's incident in which passengers were terrorized on Riviera. (Sebastian Rotella, January 5, 2006, LA Times)

France confronted a new incident of youth violence Wednesday, a rampage that terrorized passengers as their train rolled west along the Riviera on New Year's Day.

The ordeal became front-page news Wednesday in a nation still on edge from riots in November in immigrant-dominated urban areas. Authorities were criticized for leaving about 600 passengers at the mercy of youths who allegedly robbed, roughed up and sexually assaulted victims for at least 25 minutes as the 10-car regional train traveled from Nice toward Marseilles.

The youths were among about 100 suspected troublemakers whom police had rounded up in Nice and put on the train to send them home to communities around Marseilles and Avignon.

Passengers tried to barricade themselves in compartments as assailants trashed the train and threatened to kill victims who used cellphones to call for help, authorities said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2006 12:00 AM

600 passengers, 20 youths. That's 30 to 1. What's wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at January 5, 2006 10:02 AM

Heck, one German youth could terrorize a trainload of frogs.

Posted by: oj at January 5, 2006 10:05 AM

First they came for the cars, and I did nothing...

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 5, 2006 12:13 PM

Mr. Duquette;

The key question is, what where the passengers afraid of, the assailants or the French State? I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the passengers assumed that if they defended themselves, they would be prosecuted.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 5, 2006 12:46 PM

Also you have the pack vs. the herd. I've no doubt as to your own personal courage, Robert, but if you had been on that train and wanted to resist, you would have needed to look around your car and find, say, five people you thought you could trust with your life, right now. You would more likely have seen various shades of fear and submission. Law-abiding citizens need to have some preparation if they are to be able to form the sorts of ad-hoc packs that can stand up to this kind of thing.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 5, 2006 12:52 PM

Essay Questions.

1. (25 pts) Compare and contrast the actions of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, 9/11/01, with those of passengers on SNCF train whatever-it-was, 1/1/06. What conclusions can be drawn from these incidents concerning national character? Whose response is more socially desirable?

2. (5 pts) Can the phrase "Let's Roll" be translated into modern French? Explain.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 5, 2006 1:32 PM

1. One key difference was probably time. The Flight 93 General Militia had an hour or so to organize and prepare, and it seems their kidnappers allowed this, a serious mistake in retrospect.

2. Laissez-nous rouler, I think. Not that you should ever expect to hear it.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 5, 2006 1:46 PM

I have as much contempt for the frogs as anyone, but the passengers on Flight 93 knew for a fact that they were going to die if they didn't do something. That's not at all true about the train passengers.

Posted by: b at January 5, 2006 2:18 PM

Then they came for the ATVs, and I was even more thankful.

Posted by: oj at January 5, 2006 3:29 PM