France, with 5 million Muslims, has the largest Islamic population in Western Europe. As urban unrest was reported in neighboring Belgium and Germany, the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence, despite massive police deployment and continued calls for calm.
"This spread, with a sort of shock wave spreading across the country, shows up in the number of towns affected," national police chief Michel Gaudin said, noting that the violence appeared to be sliding away from its flash point in the Parisian suburbs and worsening elsewhere.
The victim was identified as Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec whom died after being beaten by an attacker. He was trying to extinguish a trash can fire Friday at his housing project in the northeastern suburb of Stains when an attacker caught him by surprise and beat him into a coma. Arsonists burned schools, Churches were set ablaze in northern Lens and southern Sete, youths pelted a bus with rocks, sending a 13-month-old child to the hospital with a head injury in Colombes.