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France

Some 1,067 cars set ablaze across France on New Year's Eve

media Fewer cars went up in smoke this year in France but three people were killed by knife violence REUTERS/Jean-Marc Loos

Some 1,067 cars were set ablaze in France over New Year’s Eve, a decrease from last year but still very much a fiery trend in more rundown parts of the country.
 

Car-burning on New Year’s Eve reportedly started in poorer neighbourhoods of the eastern city of Strasbourg in the 1980s and has since become synonymous with disenfranchised youth making sure they are not forgotten by the rest of the country.

In 2005, burnt carcasses of empty cars across France caught the world’s attention as rioting erupted across the country and most notably on the ring roads of French cities.

Police counted 8,810 torched vehicles in less than three weeks that year.

In France, like in other countries, car-burning has become a frequent form of expression used by youth to highlight racial tensions, lack of opportunity and neglect and as the year turns, this much lamented practice rages on.

Insurance companies have also highlighted how scorching cars is often spurred by payouts and either carried out, or approved by the vehicle's owners. Some reports suggest this accounts for 20 per cent of cars that go up in flames in France each year.

For the 2013-2014 New Year's roast, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday night's toll into Wednesday morning represented a more than 10 per cent drop from last year.

Eighty cars were torched in Seine-Saint-Denis area just outside Paris, representing the highest number of burned cars in the country's poorest department.

Officials under Nicolas Sarkozy’s government previously stopped publishing the figures for the annual arson tradition after realising that a district breakdown was driving a competition between rival groups.

However, France’s socialist government has since changed its policy deeming transparency the best route in extinguishing this long-standing tradition.

Over 50,000 police officers were deployed across the country during New Year’s Eve to try and curb violence.

Three people were knifed and died, including one in Paris.

 

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