Shot teen's grandmother urges end to French riots

2023-07-04 09:29:44China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Macron to meet with more than 220 mayors of affected towns, cities

The grandmother of the 17-year-old boy who was fatally shot by police in a Paris suburb last week has called for an end to the worst rioting in France in nearly 20 years, which stretched into a sixth night after his killing.

The victim, identified as Nahel M, who was of Algerian descent, was shot in the chest by an officer in Nanterre after he failed to stop the car he was driving during a traffic check on June 27.

His grandmother, identified as Nadia by French media, said on Sunday that the rioters were using the teenager's death as an excuse to cause unrest and that the family wanted peace.

"I say to the people who are breaking things: Stop. Don't break windows, don't damage schools, don't damage buses. Stop it," Nadia told BFM Television. "Nahel is dead. My daughter had just one child, she's lost him. ...My daughter has nothing left. I have lost my grandson and my daughter," she said.

While unrest across France appeared to slow on its sixth night, President Emmanuel Macron postponed a state visit to Germany, in order to deal with the crisis. He is scheduled to meet on Monday with leaders of both houses of Parliament and on Tuesday with more than 220 mayors of towns and cities affected by violence.

Nearly 45,000 police officers were deployed again on Sunday night to deter rioters who had torched cars, looted stores and targeted town halls, police stations and the home of the mayor of a Paris suburb, which was attacked while his wife and children were asleep inside, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Many of the rioters and protesters are young people from working-class communities. The average age of the more than 2,000 people arrested is 17, Darmanin said on Saturday.

The situation appeared less tense on Sunday. Police arrested 78 people across the country early on Monday, BFM Television reported. It was a sharp drop from the 719 arrests made on Saturday and 1,300 on Friday.

The biggest overnight flashpoint was Marseille, where police fired tear gas and fought street battles with protesters around the city center late into the night. There was also unrest in Paris, in the Riviera city of Nice and in Strasbourg in the east.

Nahel's funeral was held on Saturday, with hundreds of people attending the service. He was buried at the Mont-Valerien cemetery in Nanterre.

The police officer who fatally shot him was charged with culpable homicide and jailed on Thursday.

The riots amount to the worst crisis for Macron since the "Yellow Vest" protests gripped much of France in late 2018.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne condemned the attack on the home of Vincent Jeanbrun, mayor of L'Hay-les-Roses, as "particularly shocking" during a visit to the town on Sunday. She called for tough punishment for the perpetrators.

Borne assured all other mayors that the Macron government would not "allow any violence to go unchallenged".

The unrest delivers a blow to France's image a year before the Paris Olympic Games. Several nations have warned their citizens to be vigilant, which could pose a significant challenge in the peak summer tourism season if protests were to envelop prominent attractions.


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