Paris

French media mum after attack on Korean tourists in Paris

The Korean embassy has issued a warning to tourists who want to visit Paris, after a bus transporting visitors was attacked by black and Arab youths in Seine-Saint-Denis, an immigrant neighbourhood, the South Korean agency Yonap reported.

Published: February 17, 2017, 7:34 am

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    In 2005 already, in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, almost 60 percent of the inhabitants younger than 18 were immigrants.

    Some forty South Korean tourists were “slapped around”, threatened, and eventually robbed by five non-white perpetrators who boarded their coach stuck in traffic near Bobigny on Saturday. The heist took place as the group of holidaymakers were travelling from the Eiffel Tower to their hotel in Seine-Saint-Denis.

    The terrorised group told South Korea’s leading news agency Yonap they had lived through “ten minutes of horror”, and confirmed that one of the assailants had threatened them with an object “resembling a glass bottle”. The French media only reported the incident after it made headlines in Korea.

    Bobigny is currently under siege after anti-police riots broke out a week ago. The assailants assaulted some of the passengers, and then proceeded to steal “all valuables: blue cards, cash and even Eurostar train tickets” before finally attempting to set fire to the coach, Le Parisien reported on Tuesday.

    According to the Korean embassy in Paris, the attackers shouted as they boarded the bus. They assaulted tourists with broken glass bottles, hitting passengers sitting near the front over the head.

    The bus driver managed to get back to the hotel and called the police, but they refused to come. “We called the police but, in view of all that was happening, the security forces asked the tourists to go and lodge a complaint, but they did not want to leave.”

    The police headquarters in Paris reported that “several hundred violent and very mobile individuals” committed various crimes and caused damage to property in the city.

    The French media has largely ignored the attack on the tourist bus, says Floris de Bonneville, a journalist and former editor of l’Agence Gamma.

    Estimates suggest there are half a million Muslims out of a total population of 1.53 million, about a third, in Saint-Denis. Saint-Denis is home to the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) in the Bourget district, which annually hosts one of Europe’s major Muslim conferences, Paris-le-Bourget.

    In 2005, 56.7 percent of young people under 18 were of foreign origin including 38 percent of African origin – 22 percent from North Africa and 16 percent from Sub-Saharan Africa. Islam is believed to be the most practiced religion in the department.

    Some 2000 anti-police rioters had gathered near the hotel, where “public violence, broken windows, tear gas and burnt vehicles” was on display, according to local media. Le Parisien reported that the Korean embassy has advised Korean citizens to no longer visit Seine-Saint-Denis.

    Last month Breitbart London reported that France had witnessed a steep decline in tourists from East Asia amid surging violence and crime.

    President of the Chinese Association of Travel Agencies in France, Jean-François Zhou, warned that “increasingly violent” thefts and assaults are turning France into “one of the worst destinations for tourists”.

    France is the world’s top tourist destination, with 83 million foreign tourists. Asians account for a growing number of foreign tourists in France.

    The Chinese account for the highest proportion of Asians choosing France for their holidays, with some 1.5 million visitors, an essential contribution to France’s foreign trade.

    Since 1999, it has accounted for the main balance of payments surplus, with spending by tourists to France, amounting to a total of €35.8 billion.

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