The burning of more than a thousand cars on the streets of France on New Year’s Eve has prompted President Nicolas Sarkozy to launch a nationwide crackdown on offenders. 1,147 vehicles were destroyed, despite thousands of extra police on the streets. Last year 878 cars were burned, and the president said innocent people should not have to pay for delinquent behaviour.
“I want us to consider the idea of punishing these arsonists by withholding driving licences from them, car licences or motorbike licences, until they pay full compensation to the victims of their actions,” said the president. Car burning has long been an expression of dissatisfaction in France, following the street riots of 2005. More than 36,000 fires involving parked vehicles were recorded in the first eleven months of last year, raising worries that popular anger at the effects of the world financial crisis could spark renewed violence in France’s depressed inner cities.