I was mugged this week in the land of love and tolerance (Paris, France) by two beneficiaries of multiculturalism: a couple of Arab punks, approximately 20 years old.
The incident is a convenient lens through which to examine the society in which it occurred.
It was about 8:30 p.m., on Tuesday night and I was heading home from a work meeting. I always travel by subway because cabdrivers in Paris are often “astrophysicists,” “lawyers,” and “chemical engineers” from various far-flung holes who have trouble doing the job of driving a taxi without extorting their customers.
I had both my gym backpack and purse with me. I usually – as I did on this day – change my work shoes for running shoes before commuting.
So there I sat, on the line 12 subway train, in a seat not far from the door. My two bags piled on my lap, I texted away on my iPhone. The train arrived at the Concorde Metro station in the heart of Paris’ tourist district. A young man unlatches the door while the filth seated beside me snatches my iPhone from my hand. They both take off. I scream and dart out of the subway car after them, throwing my bags onto the platform, pointing to a female bystander and yelling, “WATCH MY BAGS!” I ran up a few flights of stairs, though the station, the whole time yelling, “CATCH THEM! CATCH THEM!” I may as well have been talking to the wall.
I ran out of the station and see that I’m gaining ground on them. They crossed several lanes of oncoming traffic on a green light at Place de la Concorde – once home of the guillotine, which I wish still existed at times like this.
I followed them, all the while pointing in their direction of escape in hope that maybe a taxi, police car, scooter, or something from the crush of oncoming traffic would assist me in going after them. No luck.
I continued my pursuit on foot – sprinting and yelling. My gym membership has just become an insurance policy.
A motorcyclist ahead turns back toward me and points to a wall before taking off. I look over in the indicated direction to see the two cowards, winded and hiding behind the wall. “GIVE ME MY PHONE!,” I yell. They claim not to have it. I said I don’t believe them. They say they’ll give me my SIM card back if I give them 100 EUR, but won’t give me the phone.
I saw this as an opportunity to gain some time, figuring that someone must have called the police by now. With this being a tourist area, I reasoned that the longer I could stick with them, the better the chance of some kind of help coming. Yet everyone just kept walking or driving by – in one of the busiest districts of Paris. So I told them, “Fine, if you want 100 bucks, you need to come back into the subway station so I can get it from my purse.” They walked all the way back with me but refused to go in, citing fear of police. “I don’t think you have much to worry about,” I thought, looking around for them in vain myself.
One kept repeating to me that he wasn’t a thief. “Right!” I finally replied. “Of course you’re not a thief, but you just stole my iPhone.”
Then came a really brilliant argument: “I’m Arab,” he pleads. “I swear on the head of my mother, my sister . . . I don’t have your phone.”
“You’re a liar,” I yell back. I had to figure that if he was telling the truth as an “Arab,” he probably would have sworn on the head of a non-female family member. I’m glad he profiled himself, though. It saved me the trouble.
Since they refused to go back into the subway station but also refused to give me back my iPhone, I said that I’d be staying with them until they put it back into my hand. Then one of them started yelling repeatedly: “I’LL SHOOT YOU IN THE HEAD!” I told him to shut up – so he did. The other one started pleading for me to recognize that he didn’t personally do anything and didn’t need the police on his tail. I told him to shut up, too.
I was getting tired of the whole charade, and had a split-second revelation: One of these two is clearly a coward and would flee if I put a hand-heel to the thorax of this mouthy one. Two things stopped me: I didn’t trust myself enough not to lay him out without going down the slippery slope of killing him. And I didn’t trust my knowledge of French self-defense law. I know that a Frenchman in the country was recently charged for shooting an intruder, and that President Nicolas Sarkozy himself has said that shooting a thief is disproportionate and not in line with the values of the French Republic.
So I had to conclude that killing a seemingly unarmed perp with my hands in the absence of due process would have been frowned upon, not to mention a major hassle I didn’t need.
Eventually a police car appeared in the distance and I chased it down. By the time I explained to the cops what was going on, the perps were gone.
There is a positive side to all this: I can probably get a copy of the chase video as recorded by the CCTV cameras – and that’s a better souvenir of Paris than an Eiffel Tower keychain or a beret. Also, without saying too much about an open investigation — this may end up in court and, hopefully, the perps behind bars.
The police tell me no one chases down perps – ever. And nor should they. But if more people were assured that the law is on their side if they did decide to fight the scumbags themselves, then maybe this kind of “aggravated theft” by the precious children of multicultural policy wouldn’t constitute one of the fastest growing crimes in Paris over the last year.