Unrest in France, hundreds more arrested, but violence ‘less intense’ – Times of India

Nanterre: Sporadic violence and looting occurred in several cities across France on a fourth night of protests following the fatal police shooting of a teenager, but it was much less intense than before, officials said Saturday morning.
France deployed 45,000 officers with lightly armored vehicles, while crack police units and other security forces deployed across the country to quell violence over the death of 17-year-old Nahel, who died during a traffic stop in a Paris suburb on Tuesday .
Despite the security presence, looting broke out in the cities of Marseille, Lyon and Grenoble on Friday night, with often hooded rioters looting shops.
The protesters also set fire to cars and dustbins.
But during a visit to Mentes-la-Jolie, west of Paris, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Saturday morning that the night’s violence was of “very low intensity”, with 471 arrests nationwide and tensions particularly high in Marseille and Lyon. .
Darmanin had announced an “extraordinary” mobilization of police and gendarmes to avoid a fourth consecutive night of riots over the death of Nahel, who will be buried on Saturday in Nanterre, the Paris suburb where he lived and was killed.
Dozens of police vans were stationed not far from the entrance to Nanterre’s Vieux Pont district, the epicenter of the unrest.
The French national football team joined the call for an end to the violence.
“Times of violence must give way to mourning, dialogue and reconstruction,” said a statement posted on social media by team captain and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Les Blas said they were “shocked by the brutal death of young Nahel” but asked that violence give way to “other peaceful and creative ways of expressing oneself”.
The southern port city of Marseille was again the scene of clashes and looting from the center and north in long-neglected working-class neighborhoods where President Emmanuel Macron visited earlier in the week.
Around 2:00 am, Marseille police said they had arrested 88 masked and “very mobile” youths overnight, accused of committing or attempting to commit looting.
A massive fire broke out at a supermarket “connected to the riots”, according to a police source.
“In Marseille, the scenes of looting and rioting are unacceptable,” tweeted the city’s mayor, Benoît Payen. He called on the state to send additional law enforcement.
Darmanin announced on Twitter shortly afterwards that “important reinforcements are arriving at the moment”.
Looting and clashes between hooded protesters and police also occurred in parts of Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Lyon, while in Angers and Tours, in the west of the country, there were only a few groups confronting police.
The Paris area was also engulfed in flames, with Columbus in the northwestern suburbs engulfed in a strong smell of burning as firefighters extinguished a charred car, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.
Nine people were arrested in Nanterre carrying jerry cans and Molotov cocktails.
In Saint-Denis, an administrative center was affected by fire, and in Val-d’Oise, the Persson-Beaumont town hall and the municipal police station caught fire and were partially destroyed.
Buses and trams targeted in the violence of the past few nights stopped running at 9:00 pm on Friday and the sale of large firecrackers and flammable liquids is banned.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also announced the cancellation of large-scale events across the country. Two concerts by popular singer Mylène Farmer planned for Friday and Saturday at the Stade de France were among the events cancelled.
Macron urged parents to take responsibility for the underage rioters, a third of whom were “young or very young”.
He also condemned the “unacceptable exploitation of a teen’s death” in some circles and vowed to work with social networks to stop “copycat violence” spread through services such as TikTok and Snapchat.
Macron has attempted to strike a balance between pressure for a harsher response and the prospect of triggering a stronger response.
The unrest has raised concerns abroad, with France hosting the Rugby World Cup in the autumn and then the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024.
Britain and other European countries have updated their travel advice to warn tourists to stay away from riot-hit areas.
The French tourism industry has expressed concern over the unrest, with hotels and restaurants facing cancellations.
“Our hotelier members have suffered a wave of damage and cancellation of reservations in all areas affected by the clashes,” said chef Thierry Marx, president of the main union of hotel and catering industry employers.
The unrest sparked by Nahel’s killing has revived long-standing grievances about policing and racial profiling in France’s low-income and multi-ethnic suburbs.
In her first media interview since the shootings, the teen’s mother, Mounia, told France 5 television on Thursday: “I don’t blame the police, I blame one person: the one who took my son’s life.”
He said the 38-year-old responsible officer, who was taken into custody and charged with voluntary manslaughter, “saw an Arab face, a little child, and wanted to kill him”.
The UN rights office said on Friday that the killing of the teenager of North African descent was “a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement”.
A foreign ministry statement dismissed the allegation as “completely baseless”.