Pundits are trying to speculate: how much of this is socio-economic unrest, and how much, if any, religious? I tend to think the rioters are a 'hybrid' phenomenon.
They exhibit a 'style' based on American street culture. Baggy jeans, hoods, and admiration for rapper 50 cent a/k/a/ the "Get Rich or Die Tryin" guy.
At the same time, their faith, Islam, abhors the exportation of US 'trash' culture. Yet these young men, bow in the mosque and party, smoking hashish. (As did some of the 9/11 hijackers)
And while not noted much in the US press, some shouted "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great) while rioting. [See for yourself.] If you understand French, you'll also hear this Dutch reporter asking Sarkozy to comment on the "call for jihad."
Sarkozy says he will not address it, adding that emotions are running high and his focus is on rebuilding the cities and giving hope.
Alain Bauer of the Institut de Criminologie in Paris suggested radical Muslim groups hoped to gain political power by positioning themselves as the only ones who can restore order. (If they're that confident, then perhaps they are also fomenting).
From Salon: "Suddenly 'big brothers' -- devout bearded men from the mosques, who wear long traditional robes -- are positioning themselves between the authorities and the rioters in Clichy-sous-Bois, calling for order in the name of Allah. As thousands of voices shout 'Allahu Akbar' from the windows of high-rise apartment buildings, shivers run down the spines of television viewers in their seemingly safe living rooms."
Bauer also said organized crime probably had a hand in it -since a major crackdown was on the way.
Remember this August piece about Algerian threats: "In an Internet message, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat called on its 'Muslim brothers in France' to survey, track and 'ambush" high-level political, military and economic officials on French soil, Le Figaro reports"
There are Islamist teachers the world 'round, including here in the US, who openly preach against assimilation, going so far as to call it "rape" as Abou Jahjah does. (This is a good time to re-read The Arabian Panther in Salon. ) JahJah also praises 9/11 and suggests revolution in Europe is not out of the question, leading to a "sharocracy."