France's government went into crisis mode Wednesday to deal with spreading rioting in Paris' suburbs, with the prime minister and interior minister canceling overseas trips and the president calling for calm.
In northeastern suburbs around Clichy-sous-Bois, where the accidental deaths of two teenagers last week first prompted angry youths to rampage, the hulks of burned-out cars littered streets and young men embarked on a seventh consecutive night of fighting.
The teens were electrocuted while hiding in a power substation because they believed police were chasing them.
The violence, which has spread to at least nine Paris-region towns, has exposed the anger in France's poor suburbs, some of them ghettos where police hesitate to venture despite evidence of being fertile terrain for Islamic extremists and criminal activity.
Leaders at Clichy-sous-Bois' mosque prayed for peace and asked parents to keep teenagers off the streets.
Late Wednesday, however, young people threw rocks at police in six suburbs in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris that includes Clichy, police said. About a dozen cars burned in the Le Blanc-Mesnil suburb and residents _ some in bathrobes and slippers _ poured into the streets to watch.
Nearly 200 vehicles have been torched since the violence began, police said. A few dozen arrests have been made.
President Jacques Chirac told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "the law must be applied firmly" but "in a spirit of dialogue and respect." The prime minister and interior minister canceled trips abroad to deal with the unrest.
The rioting, concentrated in tough neighborhoods with large African and Muslim populations, has highlighted the difficulties many European nations face with immigrant communities feeling marginalized _ cut off from prosperity and, for some extremists, its values.
"They have no work. They have nothing to do. Put yourself in their place," said Abderrahmane Bouhout, president of the Clichy-sous-Bois mosque, where a tear gas grenade exploded Sunday, exacerbating the anger of local youths. Authorities were investigating the incident.
The violence has cast doubt on whether France has been successful in integrating its large immigrant communities. France's Muslim population _ an estimated five million _ is Western Europe's largest.
Immigrants and their French-born children often complain of police harassment and of being refused jobs, housing and other opportunities, AP reported. V.A.
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