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Crimes, poverty grips Paris suburbs

The suburbs of Paris continue to suffer from violent crimes, unemployment and poverty five years after riots in Clichy-sous-Bois which followed the death of two Muslims.

Clichy-sous-Bois was the focal point of the 2005 riots which saw close to 3,000 people arrested and immense damage to property after the deaths of Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15.

“Of course the riots were a positive thing because within the last five years we’ve seen a lot of things change in Clichy-sous-Bois,” Mohamed Bellahcene of the Muslim Cultural Association told Press TV.

“Everyone was made to understand the problems. The whole world heard about it and things today are much better here.”

Unemployment, however, stands at 42 percent, and it is estimated to be as high as 60 percent among Muslims.

The area also suffers from violent crimes and murder rates at least twice the national average.

Voter abstention rates are more than 70 percent.

“If the government would create some jobs here, that would be a start. We’re all waiting for the government to create employment and improve public transportation,” Bellahcene said.

Atmane Aggoun, a French sociologist, said, “I sincerely think that nothing has been done. Many of the sociologists that talk with people are of this view.”

Long-time residents say some conditions have improved, such as construction and urban development.

This is attributed to the approval of a 40-million-euro package by the French government for the construction of residential units in poor neighborhoods, with EUR 15 million set aside for Clichy-sous-Bois.

A direct bus line was also made a year ago that runs to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

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