Hundreds attended the burial of Nahel M., the 17-year-old killed by French police whose death has led to five consecutive nights of riots across France.
Hundreds attended the burial of Nahel M., the 17-year-old killed by French police whose death has led to five consecutive nights of riots across France. President Emmanuel Macron deployed 45,000 police across France on Saturday night to quell the fifth night of riots.
- Macron was forced to postpone a state visit to Germany, the first by a French president in 23 years, to deal with the crisis. The nationwide riots represent a serious challenge to Macron’s government only months after his pension overhaul sparked protests and rioting.
- The teen, identified only as Nahel M., was shot by a police officer on Tuesday as he drove off during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a suburb of Pars. Police initially claimed that Nahel drove his car at the officers, but this was contradicted by video footage of the traffic stop that went viral on social media.
- The video shows two policemen standing next to a car, and one appears to say, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.” The police officer then fires at the driver as the car begins to move forward before it crashed.
- Nahel M. was raised in Nanterre, an immigrant community near Paris, by a single mother who was from Algeria, France’s former North African colony. Mounia, Nahel’s mother, did not blame all police but instead she said, “I blame one person: the one who took the life of my son.”
- The police officer who shot the teenager has been arrested and charged with homicide after a march for justice led by Mounia was disrupted by violence.
- More than 2,400 people have been arrested since the riots began on Tuesday. Hundreds of French police and firefighters have been injured in street clashes along with an unknown number of protesters. A 54-year-old man was killed by a stray bullet in French Guiana.
- Marseille in the south of France was the site of particularly intense clashes where police used tear gas on rioter and made at least 43 arrests. Around 121 people have been arrested so far as of Saturday night, including 37 in Paris alone.
- The New York Times reported that in many of France’s poorer suburbs, “resentment bubbles just beneath the surface as they see opportunities cut off by often substandard schooling and discrimination in hiring.”
- The Guardian observed the riots mark the worst street violence in France in 18 years are represent a significant challenge to Macron’s government. More than 230 buildings, including government property, and 1,350 vehicles have been burned so far in the riots.
- CNN reported on the ground at the funeral. “The funeral was solemn and quiet…with people waiting in silence for his coffin to leave the mosque and be taken for burial. The teenager has been buried in the Mont Valérien cemetery in Nanterre.”
- The Wall Street Journal reported violence had begun to decline in some areas of the country on the fourth and fifth nights of the protests. Paris saw a steep decline in violence compared to earlier nights.
- Fox News observed Nahel’s fatal encounter with police was not the first intense where he refused to listen to police commands. Nahel “reportedly had been placed in detention for refusing to comply with a previous traffic stop and was scheduled to appear in juvenile court in September.”
- Breitbart noted the significance of Macron’s cancelled state visit: “The scrapping of the official trip was a clear sign of the gravity of France’s unrest.” The state visit was the second head of state trip disrupted by French protests this year, after King Charles III had to cancel his first foreign trip as monarch because of the pension reform protests.
© Dominic Moore, 2023