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Thursday, September 21, 2023

France Riots: Violence and Unrest Grip Nanterre following Fatal Incident

During these tumultuous nights, numerous buildings have been set ablaze, vehicles destroyed, and stores looted

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

FRANCE. Paris: A 17-year-old boy of Algerian and Moroccan descent, Nahel M., was shot and killed by a police official in the Nanterre suburb during a traffic stop on June 27, sparking unrest nationwide in major cities.

On Saturday, amidst escalating riots in French cities for the fourth consecutive night, France mobilised a force of 45,000 police officers along with armoured vehicles to maintain order.

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During these tumultuous nights, numerous buildings have been set ablaze, vehicles destroyed, and stores looted. As per the reports, Islam extremists also burnt the largest public library in the city of Marseille. The escalating violence has thrust President Emmanuel Macron into the most severe crisis of his leadership since the Yellow Vest protests that initially erupted in 2018.

Nanterre Mayor Patrick Jarry reported that Nahel was in a yellow Mercedes when he was shot at close range during a police stop near Nelson Mandela Square at around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

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Videos captured the incident from different angles, revealing that contrary to initial statements suggesting that two police officers were at serious risk when one of them fired shots, the officers were positioned near the driver’s window, with one officer aiming a firearm inside, just as the car started to drive past them.

The voice can be heard saying, “You are going to get a bullet in the head,” according to the France24 news source. A single shot is heard as the car moves forward. Nahel passed away on the spot; his vehicle rolled forward before coming to a stop after colliding with a power pole.

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One of the other two passengers in the car with Nahel has spoken to the police, but the other escaped and is currently being sought by the police, according to Jarry.

The officer allegedly shot at the teenager while he was trying to escape from the authorities, citing concerns for his personal safety. The entire incident was recorded on video.

On Thursday, prosecutor Pascal Prache announced that the officer is facing a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide. The decision was made after a thorough review, which concluded that the legal requirements for the officer to use his firearm were not met when he fired it at Nahel from close range.

Two officers on motorcycles attempted to halt a car after noticing it speed through bus lanes, as reported by France’s BFM TV, based on a timeline provided by the prosecutor’s office. The driver of the car did not stop until a traffic jam forced him to come to a halt, the prosecutor stated.

Nahel’s mother, Mounia, expressed her deep sorrow in an interview with Blast France, emphasising the heartbreaking loss of her beloved child. She passionately appealed to individuals, urging them to unite in a march dedicated to honouring her son’s memory.

“He was such a young child, needing his mother’s presence,” she recounted. “Every morning, he bid me farewell with a kiss and said, ‘I love you, Mum.'”

Riots have erupted in several cities across France, extending to the outskirts of Paris, Toulouse, and various towns in the northern regions. Disturbances have also been witnessed in Amiens, Dijon, St-Etienne, and the vicinity of Lyon.

Protesters have resorted to acts of aggression, such as launching fireworks at law enforcement officers, setting vehicles on fire, and deliberately igniting public structures. Notably, two town halls were burned down: one in Mons-en-Barœul and one in Garges-lès-Gonesse. These incidents severely damaged numerous infrastructures and services.

As per reports, law enforcement authorities have arrested at least 150 individuals for their involvement in these riots.

On Thursday,France’s President Emmanuel Macron called for an emergency meeting and vehemently condemned the violence, labelling it “unjustifiable.” He stressed the importance of thoughtful contemplation and calmness in response to the tragic death of a young man.

The government has consistently appealed for peace, and Macron reiterated the necessity of maintaining a composed approach in the coming hours while also paying tribute to the 17-year-old victim.

Macron also denounced the recent acts of violence targeting police stations, schools, town halls, and other institutions. He deemed these actions entirely without justification and expressed gratitude towards those who worked overnight to protect these establishments and restore order.

In response to the unrest in the city that a fatal police shooting had caused, Valerie Pecresse, the regional governor of Paris, also declared that bus and tram services would end early on Thursday evening at 9 p.m.

The objective of this decision is to guarantee both workers’ and passengers’ safety in transportation. On Twitter, Valerie Pecresse emphasised that individuals who engage in thuggery and vandalism shouldn’t target their public transportation systems.

The French government has announced its plans to deploy a force of 40,000 police officers and adopt a strict zero-tolerance approach in areas where incidents of arson targeting buildings and vehicles have occurred.

In response to the outbreak of riots, which resulted in numerous injuries to police officers and extensive damage to nearly 100 public structures, government ministers visited the affected regions and called for calm while making it clear that such violence would not be tolerated any longer.

Following a crisis meeting led by President Macron in the morning, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed a significant increase in the presence of law enforcement personnel, with the number of officers being raised from 9,000 to 40,000. In the Paris region alone, the deployment of police officers will more than double, totaling 5,000.

Also Read: Violent Anti-French Police Demonstrations Lead to Detention of over 150 Individuals


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