- (Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)
A recent tradition for New Year's Eve among youths in France is to welcome the new year by setting cars on fire. Authorities in France revealed that the early moments 2013 saw 1,193 cars set ablaze.
France's Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, revealed the total numbers of burned vehicles during a press conference on Tuesday, which marked the first time in three years that the government has released those figures.
Official records from the country's current Socialist government stated that the number of cars torched this year was roughly the same amount destroyed the last time the government released official figures in 2009, when 1,147 cars were burned on New Year's Eve.
The national secretary for security in France's Union for Popular Movement party, Bruno Beschizza, felt that disclosing the numbers was the wrong action, and served to entice offenders in completing more car burnings.
"We know that neighborhoods compete," Beschizza said during an interview on iTele TV. He was referring to the fact that gangs in rival areas compete with each other to see who can torch the most cars while bragging about their actions on various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
This was the first time in three years that the official government figures were made public after former French President Nicolas Sarkozy had opted to keep the numbers private. The former president decided not to let make the figures available in an effort not to give exposure to the actions of local youths ad gangs.
Officials explained that the practice of torching cars is fairly recent with the tradition staring in earnest in the 1990s, usually in poorer neighborhoods, in eastern regions in France.
Valls stated that the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, where the cars were discovered, had the most cases of burnt cars in France.