PARIS, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested organized gangs may be behind the violence sweeping Paris suburbs.
"We were struck to see in departments -- notably Seine Saint Denis -- a large organization" behind the rioting that has swept the gritty suburbs ringing the French capital, Sarkozy told reporters Friday.
"And all of this doesn't appear to us to be completely spontaneous," he added. "We're trying to work in depth on all of these subjects."
Sarkozy's remarks echo those of other experts and law enforcement officials who believe criminal gangs and possibly Islamist movements might be fueling near nightly clashes between youths and police outside Paris in recent days.
On Thursday, police reported few violent incidents -- apart from arson attacks on 600 vehicles in the region.
But immigration expert Catherine Wihtol de Wenden downplayed chances the perpetrators of the violence -- ethnic immigrant youths, many of them of Muslim-North African origin -- were being fueled by radical Islam.
"I think most of these youths aren't practicing their religion strongly," said de Wenden, research director at the Paris-based Center of Political Studies and Research, said in an interview.
"I think there is no link between Islam and violence," she added.