Thousands protest after cops kill teen in France

By John Studer
July 17, 2023

Protests and rioting have gripped the Paris suburb of Nanterre, home to tens of thousands of Arabs, Africans and other Muslims, since cops killed Nahel Merzouk, a teenager from the area, June 27. Merzouk came from an Algerian and Moroccan background. At first authorities claimed Merzouk had plowed into police after a traffic stop, who had to fire in self-defense. But a bystander’s video surfaced showing cops, above, shooting point-blank into the side of Merzouk’s car as he tried to drive away. Before they shot, one cop is heard saying, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.”

President Emmanuel Macron’s office rejects the idea there are “two Frances” of different conditions and treatment. But the residents of these working-class suburbs face racial and religious discrimination, high joblessness, low pay and cop harassment. The government has sent thousands of cops into the area to try and suppress the uprising, arresting over 3,300 people.

The government claims France is a “secularist” country, and has the right to impose so-called neutrality in dress for many activities. The country’s top court ruled June 29 that the French Football Federation could  bar women soccer players from competing if they wear a hijab. This is simply anti-Muslim discrimination.  “I feel betrayed by the country, which is supposed to be the country of the rights of man,” 25-year-old Mama Diakite, who lives near where Merzouk lived told the New York Times. She quit playing soccer last year because of the ban.

Some rioters carried out antisocial attacks on area homes, stores and restaurants. These have been met by squads of residents who stay up at night to protect their neighborhoods. “The anger is as strong as the violence of the tragedy,” restaurant manager Mohamed Saly, told the Times. “But I don’t support the actions that have been taken.”