Nanterre, France (AP) — Hundreds of mourners from France’s Muslim community turned to silence on Saturday to bury a 17-year-old boy whose police killing sparked days of riots and riots. With anguished expressions on their faces, they made a solemn procession from the mosque to the hillside cemetery. looted across the country.
Underscoring the severity of the crisis, President Emmanuel Macron has canceled an official visit to Germany following a night of unrest across France. Officials said 45,000 police officers would again be deployed on streets across the country to stop the violence on the fifth night.
Altogether about 2,400 people have been arrested since the boy’s death on Tuesday. Interior Minister Gérald Dalmanin tweeted late Saturday that 200 riot police would be deployed in the port city of Marseille, with television showing tear gas and footage of police on the streets at night. Twenty-nine people have been arrested in Paris, with at least 37 arrested near the Champs-Élysées in Paris, police said, with a police van parked outside a luxury store in one of Paris’ most high-profile areas. was witnessed.
Near the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday night, hundreds of policemen with batons and shields stood restlessly along the Champs-Élysées, some in front of the shuttered Cartier boutique. Social media posts called for protests on the main street, but the presence of police appears to have prevented mass gatherings.
At the hilltop cemetery in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre where a teenage boy identified only as Neher was murdered, hundreds of people line the road as mourners carry his white coffin from the mosque to the burial site. I stood up and paid my respects. Even if you drive away. Some of the men were carrying folded prayer rugs.
“Men come first,” officials told dozens of women waiting to enter the cemetery. But Neher’s mother, dressed in white, responded to her applause by entering inside and heading for the tomb. The men, many of them young, Arab or black, had come to mourn the boy who might have been them.
Inside the cemetery gates, the coffin was lifted above the crowd and carried towards the grave. The men followed, some leading a little boy by the hand. Some wiped their eyes as they left. The police were nowhere to be seen.
The furore had taken a toll on President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic stance. In a phone call on Saturday, Macron asked to postpone a state visit to Germany, the first by a French president in 23 years, according to the German president’s office, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Macron was scheduled to fly to Germany on Sunday evening and visit Berlin and two other German cities.
“Given the security situation in the country, the president (Macron) has stated that he would like to stay in France for the next few days,” said Macron’s office.
Nehel was shot during a traffic stop. The video shows two police officers by the car window, one pointing a gun at the driver. As the boy pulled forward, the police fired once through the windshield. Nehel’s mother told France 5 TV this week that while she was angry with the police who shot her son, she was not angry with the police in general.
“He saw a little kid who looked Arab and was about to take his life,” she said.
Nehel’s family has Algerian roots.
Race has been a taboo topic for decades in France, which officially grapples with the doctrine of colorblind universalism. Critics argue that the doctrine has masked systemic racism for generations.
A police officer accused of murdering Neher was given a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide, which the investigating judge strongly suspects of wrongdoing but requires further investigation before the case can be sent to trial. It means that there is Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Plache said the initial investigation had concluded that the use of weapons by police officers was not legally justified.
Hundreds of police and firefighters were injured in the riots that followed the killing. Authorities have not released the number of injured demonstrators. A 54-year-old man has been killed by a stray bullet in the overseas territory of French Guiana.
The reaction to the killings was a strong reminder of persistent poverty, discrimination, unemployment and other lack of opportunities in the fringes of France, where many residents trace their roots to former French colonies (such as where Neher grew up).
“The story of Nahel is the story of a lighter that lit the gas. Hopeless young people were waiting for it. It’s too much,” said Samba Sek, 39, a transport worker in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
Clichy is the birthplace of weeks of riots that rocked France in 2005, sparked by the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted at a substation while fleeing police. One of the boys lived in the same housing project as Sek.
Like many residents of Clichy, he lamented the violence aimed at his town. The wreckage of a burnt car lies beneath an apartment building, and rioters set fire to the entrance to City Hall this week.
“Young people destroy everything, but we are already poor and have nothing,” he said, adding, “Young people are afraid to die at the hands of the police.”
Despite the escalating crisis, President Macron held off on declaring a state of emergency, which was optional in 2005. However, the government stepped up its law enforcement response and deployed a large number of police officers, including those recalled from vacation.
French Justice Minister Dupont Moretti warned on Saturday that young people who share calls for violence on Snapchat and other apps could face legal prosecution. President Macron has accused social media of inciting violence.
Finance Minister Bruno Lemaire has pledged government support to shopkeepers.
“There is no country without order and common rules,” he said.
President Darmanin has ordered a nationwide nighttime shutdown of all public buses and trams targeted by the rioters. He also said he warned against using social networks as a vehicle to call out violence.
The riots came a little over a year before Paris and other French cities were due to host Olympians and millions of tourists at the Summer Olympics, and organizers said the situation would continue as preparations progressed. was carefully monitored.
Last year, 13 people were shot dead by French police for disobeying traffic stops. Three more people died in similar circumstances this year, including Neher. The death has sparked calls for more accountability in France, as well as racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Charlton reported from Paris. Associated Press reporter Jade Le Déry of Clichy-sous-Bois, France. Claire Rush, Portland, Oregon. Jocelyn Noveck of New York and Geir Moulson of Berlin contributed to this report.
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