French burn fewer cars on NYE

·2-min read

Hundreds of empty, parked cars go up in flames in France each New Year's Eve, set afire by young revellers, a much lamented tradition that appeared in decline this year, which saw only 874 vehicles burned.

The number of cars burned overnight has declined compared to New Year's Eve 2019 when 1,316 vehicles went up in flames, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Saturday on Twitter.

Fewer arson attacks occurred because of massive police presence on cities' streets this New Year's Eve, enforcing law and order and restrictions on public gatherings and wearing face masks as infections driven by the fast-spreading omicron variant surge, he said.

France became the sixth country in the world to report more than 10 million COVID-19 infections since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to official data published on Saturday.

French health authorities reported 219,126 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period, the fourth day in a row that the country has recorded more than 200,000 cases.

France joined the United States, India, Brazil, Britain and Russia in having had more than 10 million cases.

There is no information on the number of cars burned last NYE because of a nation-wide lockdown in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Like many countries, France sees cars set on fire during the year for many reasons, including gangs hiding clues of their crimes and people making false insurance claims.

But car-torching took a new step in France when it became a way to mark the arrival of the New Year. The practice reportedly began in earnest among youths - often in poor neighbourhoods - in the 1990s in the region around Strasbourg in eastern France.

It also became a voice of protest during the fiery unrest by despairing youths from housing projects that swept France in the fall of 2005. At the time, police counted 8,810 vehicles burned in less than three weeks.

with Reuters

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