Marseille, with a population of something under a million, is France's second largest city, and, as the BBC reported last year, "it's likely to become the first Western European metropolis where the majority of the population will be Muslim." With a candor for which it has not always been known, the BBC acknowledged that "Marseille can appear dirty, poor and covered in graffiti," and that, moreover, it's riddled with crime, with whole neighborhoods living under the authority of "criminals, not the police," who have long since given up trying to maintain law and order. But the BBC was quick to add, in what has become a familiar media formula where such cesspools are concerned, that Marseille is a "rich, vibrant, colourful city which many hope can become an example of how multiculturalism can work."
That a city made up increasingly of no-go zones can be a model for anything is, of course, a sad joke, but, as we know, there is a widespread need nowadays to embrace and promote this kind of hooey. Never mind that things got so dicey last summer that the mayor of two districts of Marseille asked for the government to send in the army and, as the Telegraph reported, "set up roadblocks around neighbourhoods to vet inhabitants for weapons and drugs 'like in times of war.'" The Telegraph noted that back in 2011 Marseille's public prosecutor had warned "that parts of Marseille were like 'the favelas of Rio." To be sure, the Telegraph also felt obliged to flavor its report with a pinch or two of the usual hogwash about Marseille being a "vibrant Mediterranean melting pot" and so on.