France Reports ‘No Incidents’ Despite Hundreds of Cars Torched on NYE

Night view of the Eiffel tower in Paris, France

Night view of the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

French officials are being accused of downplaying a rash of arson incidents after nearly 1,000 cars across the country were set on fire on New Year’s Eve. Despite police arrests of 454 people, with 301 taken into custody, officials say the holiday “went off without any major incident.”

The French Interior Ministry said that 945 cars were either “totally destroyed” or “slightly affected” by the vandalism, a 17 percent increase from last year. However, the ministry claimed that these incidents have tapered off because they released the number of cars set on fire instead of the number of cars destroyed by fire.

The mass burning of cars has been something of year-end custom in France since the 1990s, with people competing to see who can set the most vehicles ablaze. During social unrest in 2005, disaffected French youths set fire to nearly 9,000 vehicles.

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