Worst Riots of the 21st Century

Violence resulting from riots can often include the burning of vehicles.
Violence resulting from riots can often include the burning of vehicles.

A riot is a type of civil unrest or disorder typically associated with large groups of people. Riots can be as a result of sporting activities, political activities, poor working conditions, government oppression, harsh living conditions, and conflict between religious or racial groups. Riots commonly involve destruction and vandalism of property, whether it be public or private. Properties that are targeted by the rioters vary widely depending on the inclinations of the riot, but they could include shops, restaurants, religious buildings, and state-owned buildings. Throughout history there have been riots that can be categorized as major on account of the scale of the riots, the value of property destroyed, numbers of casualties or the duration.

Largest Riots of the 21st Century

2002 Gujarat Riots

The 2002 Gujarat riots was an inter-communal violence that took place over three days in the western part of the Indian state of Gujarat, claiming the lives of 2,000 people. The riots have been referred to as a "pogrom", a word that is used to describe an intentional massacre of a singular ethnic group. In February 2002, a fire ripped through a train in Godhra station in Gujarat, burning 59 Hindu pilgrims to death. The minority Muslim population was suspected of the arson, and Hindu mobs rampaged through the city neighborhoods, engaging in the worst violence ever witnessed in the history of India since independence in1947. The cause of the fire at the train station remains disputed by the two religious communities. Over the years that followed, more than 100 people have been convicted and in 2011, the court found 31 Hindus guilty of killing Muslims who were sheltering in a single house. In 2012, a former minister in the state government was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Riots in Kyrgyzstan

The riots of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 have also been known as the Kyrgyzstan revolution or the second revolution. The riots started in April 2010 and led to the ousting of the Kyrgyzstan president Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power in the capital of Bishkek. The riots were followed by ethnic tension between the Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz communities which escalated in mid-2010. The riots led to the deaths of an estimated t 2,000 people and resulted in the displacement of 40,000 others. At the height of the riots, more than 1,000 protesters marched to the government headquarters and briefly took government workers hostage. The security forces managed to block the protesters and retain their hold on the building, only to be forced out again by the protestors before the head of state was finally ousted.

Riots in Nigeria

The riots in Nigeria in 2010, also known as the 2010 Jos riots, were a clash between the Christian and Muslim communities of Nigeria. Jos is the capital of Plateau state located in the middle of the divide between the predominately-Muslim north and predominately-Christian south in Nigeria. There has longtime been tension between the two communities within Nigeria. From as early as 2001, the region has been experiencing violence motivated by a myriad of factors, amongst them religious and economic ones. The first ignition of violence occured in the January 2010 and spread to the nearby communities resulting in houses, vehicle, mosques, and churches being set ablaze throughout four days of violence. Ultimately, 992 people were and many more fled their homes for fear of further attacks.

Effects of riots

The economic and political effects of riots are as complex as their causes. Usually there are losses of lives, and destruction of property which is usually measurable. The 1992 riots in Los Angeles resulted in the injury of more than 2,383 people, the deaths of 51 people, 8,000 arrests, and more than 700 businesses destroyed by burning. More than $1 billion worth of property was damaged. Similarly, the 2005 French riots that lasted more than three weeks and spreading to more than 300 other towns led to enormous loses. At the end of the riots, more than 10,000 cars were destroyed and more than 300 buildings burned. More than 2,800 suspected rioters were arrested, and over 126 police and fire fighters were also injured, bringing the estimated damage total to more than €200 million.

Largest Riots of the 21st Century

RankRiot NameLocationYearDeath Toll (Est.)
12002 Gujarat RiotsGujarat, India20022,000
2Riots in Kyrgystan Kyrgystan20102,000
3Riots in NigeriaNigeria2010992
4Egypt RiotsEgypt2011846
5Tunisia RiotsTunisia2011219
6July 2009 Ürümqi riotsChina2009197
8Naroda Patiya MassacreAshmedabad, India200297
92010 Kyrgzstani UprisingKyrgystan201085
102008 Tibetan unrestTibet200883
11Jamaica RiotsJamaica201073
12Bahrain RiotsManama, Bahrain201170
13Riots in Indian KashmirIndia201050
14Ebonyi State RiotsNigeria201250
1512 May Karachi ViolenceKarachi, Pakistan200748
16Apodaca Prison RiotMexico201244
17Saffron RevolutionMyanmar200731
18Riots in PanamaPanama201031
19Cross River State RiotsNigeria201030
20Jos RiotsNigeria201130
21Mexico Prison RiotMexico201028
22Rio De Janeiro RiotsBrazil201025
23Ivory Coast RiotsIvory Coast201020
24Maranhão RiotsBrazil201018
25Riots in Indian KashmirIndia201010
26Central Punjab RiotsPunjab, Pakistan20098
27Prison RiotVenezuela20108
282006 Aligarh riotsAligarh, India20066
292009 Thai political unrestThailand20096
30Prison RiotVenezuela20106
31December 2001 RiotsBuenos Aires, Argentina20015
322008 riot in MongoliaUlan Bator, Mongolia20085
33Nigeria RiotsNigeria20104
34Dongzhou ProtestsDongzhou, China2005-20063
352003 Maldives Civil UnrestMalé, Maldives20033
362005 French RiotsParis, France20053
372007 West Bengal food riotsWest Bengal, India20073
38Greece RiotsGreece20103
39Northeast India RiotsIndia20103
4027th G8 SummitGenoa, Italy20012
412005 Birmingham RiotsBirmingham, United Kingdom20052
422006 civil unrest in San Salvadr AtencoMexico20062
43Kyrgyzstan RiotsKyrgystan20102
44Bariloche RiotsBariloche, Argentina20102
45Yemen RiotsYemen20102
46Quebec Prison RiotsQuebec, Canada20102
47Seattle Mardi Gras RiotSeattle, United States20011
482003 Wrocław football riot 2003Wrocław, Poland20031
49Guinea-Bissau RiotBissau, Guinea-Bissau20071
50Football riotŠiroki Brijeg, Bosnia and Herzegovina20091

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