After a handful of arson attacks in cities in Germany and Belgium, Europe’s leaders are asking themselves whether the riots seen in France could happen elsewhere. So far there have been few incidents – a school and half a dozen cars burnt in the west German city of Bremen and another five vehicles set alight in Berlin.
While politicians in Britain, Germany and elsewhere say the situation in France is different, they admit there is no room for complacency at home. In Brussels, there were attacks on cars near the main train station. Experts say while Belgium does not have high-rise social housing on the scale of France, there are sensitive areas, nonetheless.
“It is clear that perhaps there is a copycat phenomenon because we have already seen several incidents between the security forces and youths at Schaerbeek this weekend and vehicles burnt here,” said one of Brussels’ chief of police, Jacques Simonet. He added: “We mustn’t over dramatise, but neither should we take the phenomenon lightly.”
Various countries including the United States, Britain, Canada and Russia have urged their citizens to exercise caution in France.