Of all the things I am grateful for, one of them is that I am not in Paris - or, indeed, any major city in France.
The riots, which started October 27 in a northern suburb of Paris, soon spread to other impoverished Parisian banlieues and have now, after the 11th consecutive night, consumed other metropolises in France, including Dijon, Rouen, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Nice.
The riots ensued after two North African teenagers were electrocuted in a substation in the Parisian enclave of Clichy-sous-Bois in an attempt to hide from pursuing policemen. The two teens, police suspected, had been involved in a robbery.
This event seems to have been the last straw for French Muslims - a good-sized number of them North African immigrants - as nationwide riots have become de facto events. Even neighbouring countries Germany and Italy are worried about a trickle-down event amongst their Muslim populations.
President Jacques Chirac has appealed for peace but has also left no room for doubt that punishment is forthcoming and will be severe.
"The law must have the last word," Chirac warned. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has also been talking tough, referring to the rioters as "scum" and promising to "clean up" the suburbs. Muslim youths are not giving in, continuing to torch cars, firebomb schools and churches, and throw Molotov cocktails at police forces.
It would appear that the time is right for Chirac, Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to declare martial law and start delivering on the promise of tough action. Poverty and unemployment in the working-class estates in France is no excuse for out-of-control rioting, which has now been fed by drug traffickers and Islamic militants.
But there is a reason why all this disorder has exploded in France. For all its socialist liberalism, as with most of Europe, France has failed to integrate Muslim immigrants into society, where they have mostly been looked down upon. As aforementioned, poverty and unemployment in run-down ghetto towns where they live is rife. Also, immigrants from North Africa are used to clearly defined rules of behavior. The culture shock they suffer when living in Europe, where the rules aren't so delineated, causes them to cling even more to Islam, breeding fundamentalism. Unemployment plus fanaticism equals disaster. The Muslim community in France needs opportunity, and that's exactly what they've been lacking for decades.