How the police shooting of an Arab teenager in Paris sparked a nationwide crisis  

Special How the police shooting of an Arab teenager in Paris sparked a nationwide crisis  
Firefighters work to put out a burning car on the sidelines of a demonstration in Nanterre, west of Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2023
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How the police shooting of an Arab teenager in Paris sparked a nationwide crisis  

How the police shooting of an Arab teenager in Paris sparked a nationwide crisis  
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has described the killing of Nahel M. on Tuesday as “inexplicable” and “inexcusable”
  • The shooting has revived the debate in France about whether or not police officers should be allowed to carry firearms

PARIS: The bullet could have been aimed a tire to immobilize the illegally driven vehicle. Instead, it pierced the chest of a 17-year-old boy. That was how Nahel M. was killed on Tuesday, shot dead by a French police officer who was trying to make him comply.

Nahel, who was stopped by officers for driving a vehicle without a license, was killed at around 8:15 a.m. on June 27 near Nelson Mandela Square in Nanterre, Hauts-de-Seine, in the French capital, Paris.

His mother, Mounia M., a healthcare professional, said she said goodbye to her son that morning to go to work, the same as any other day. “We left at the same time,” she told the French media.

Footage of the shooting, which has been verified by media outlets including Le Monde, showed two police officers standing at the driver’s side of the vehicle, one of them aiming his firearm at the driver.

When the car suddenly pulled away, the officer opened fire, hitting the driver in the chest. The video, which quickly went viral, disproved earlier police claims that the vehicle was heading toward the two officers with the intention of hitting them.

As the footage spread on Tuesday, residents of Nanterre and other nearby areas took to the streets to condemn the shooting and the apparent attempt by police to cover up what really happened.




Youth watch a street with burning tyres in Bordeaux, south-western France. (AFP)

According to a figures released by French authorities on Wednesday morning, 31 arrests were made overnight during clashes between police and residents of Nanterre, Asnieres, Colombes, Clichy-sous-Bois and Mantes-la-Jolie.

The next day, as he attempted to calm the unrest, French President Emmanuel Macron described the shooting as “inexplicable” and “inexcusable.”

Speaking during a visit to Marseille, he said that “nothing, nothing justifies the death of a young person,” as he cited the “emotion of the entire nation” and expressed “respect and affection” for Nahel’s family.

Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, described the footage of the shooting as “extremely shocking” and expressed his desire to discover “the whole truth about what happened and, while respecting the time of justice, as quickly as possible.”

At the National Assembly, deputies paused during parliamentary business to observe a minute’s silence as a tribute to Nahel.

The shooting has revived the debate in France about whether or not police officers should be armed. A law allowing them to carry firearms was adopted in February 2017 in response to the shooting of four officers in Viry-Chatillon in October 2016.




Police officers clash with protesters in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre. (AFP)

Since then, officers have been permitted, under Article 435-1 of the Internal Security Code, to use firearms “in cases of absolute necessity and strictly proportionate manner,” especially in the case of a refusal to comply when a driver “is likely to commit … attacks on their life or that of third parties.”

Given the footage of Nahel’s killing, the officers involved have been criticized for not responding to the incident in a “strictly proportionate manner,” and face accusations of excessive use of force, a culture of impunity, and even claims of racism.

In an interview with TV channel France 5, Nahel’s mother, Mounia, accused the officer who killed her son of targeting the teenager because of his race, and called for him to receive a stiff prison sentence. However, she stopped short of condemning the French police service as a whole.

“I don’t blame the police,” she said. “I blame one person, the one who took my son’s life. He had no right to kill my son. To hit him or get him out, yes, but not with a bullet. It’s the fault of one man, not a system.

“He saw the face of an Arab, of a young boy, and he wanted to take his life away from him … I expect him to pay for my son’s pain, for the punishment to match my pain. He killed my son. He killed me,” she added, pleading for “truly firm justice, not six months and then he’s out.”

Several public figures, including Marseille-based rap artists Jul and SCH, reacted to Nahel’s death on social media. On Wednesday, SCH tweeted his “full support” for Nahel’s loved ones and “our neighborhoods.”

Rohff, also a rapper, tweeted: “Lack of a license or a refusal to comply should not allow a police officer who is not in danger to commit murder in public.”

On Wednesday morning, Kylian Mbappe, the captain of the French national football team, expressed his anger, describing the incident as “unacceptable.”

In a message posted on Twitter, he wrote: “My heart aches for my France.”

French actor Omar Sy, star of the Netflix TV series “Lupin,” tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of Nahel, who died at 17 … killed by a police officer in Nanterre. May a proper justice honor the memory of this child.”

Far from fizzling out, the violent unrest that began on Tuesday night continued into Wednesday. Before 10pm, the situation was calm in Nanterre. As it was the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, men, women and children dressed in festive attire could be seen out and about in the capital of Hauts-de-Seine.




A pedestrian takes an image as she walks by burnt vehicles on a street in Lyon, south-eastern France. (AFP)

After nightfall, however, young people dressed in black, their faces concealed by hoods or scarves, spilled onto the streets. The first skirmishes broke out in the Vieux-Pont neighborhood, where at least two cars were set on fire.

The heart of the riots was in the Pablo Picasso neighborhood, a maze of winding alleys around the famous Nuage Towers, built in the 1970s. Clashes also took place throughout Ile-de-France, with thick black smoke and exploding fireworks visible from the A86 highway. About 2,000 police officers were mobilized to bring the riot under control.

On Thursday, the police officer who fired the fatal shot was charged with voluntary manslaughter and taken into custody, according to the prosecutor’s office. His arrest was not enough to prevent further unrest.

Nahel’s mother, Mounia, called on residents to join a “White March” for Nahel at the place where he died. More than 6,000 people turned out, with shouts of “justice for Nahel” and “never again” ringing out among the crowd.

The march started peacefully but soon descended into violence, with further clashes between protesters and riot police. At least 421 arrests were made across France overnight, including 242 in the Paris region alone.

By Friday, the public outrage had spread to Lille, Marseille and Bordeaux, as well as Paris and its suburbs, along with several smaller towns where such disturbances are rare, including Denain near Roubaix, a town of about 20,000 inhabitants. There were violent clashes and major acts of vandalism in all these places.

Yannick Landraud, a union representative for Police Alliance 75, said that protesters had fired projectiles at riot police “from close range,” injuring several officers.

Although there is growing support for a more robust crackdown on the rioters, Landraud cautioned against declaring a state of emergency too soon on the grounds that it might not be respected and could give the impression the state had failed.

“And what will come next?” he asked. “It won’t stop. They are in a pattern where they will gather every night … To what level of violence will we escalate?”




A municipal employee walks past broken windows of The Coliseum of Roubaix Theatre in Roubaix, northern France. (AFP)

Nahel’s funeral is due to take place on Saturday and further unrest was expected. During a crisis meeting on Friday, the second in 24 hours, Macron showed resolve in the face of the intense public pressure. After denouncing what he called the “unacceptable exploitation of the death of a teenager” by some groups among the rioters, he announced the deployment of “additional resources” by the Ministry of the Interior.

He also called on “all parents to take responsibility” for their children and to refuse to allow them to join the rioters. Local precautions have also been taken, including the early closure of all public transportation services.

For now, it seems, Macron recognizes the need to tread a fine line and strike a delicate balance between firmness and compassion, security and understanding, and the need for peace — but also justice for Nahel.


Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
Updated 12 sec ago
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Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front,” said Austin

BRUSSELS: Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv area is slowing and the frontline is stabilizing after some allies lifted restrictions on Kyiv’s use of donated weapons on Russian territory, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front. Now, I think we’ll see incremental gains — and we’ll see puts and takes — going forward,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“But again, a couple of weeks ago, there was concern that we would see a significant breakthrough on the part of the Russians. I don’t think we’ll see that going forward.”

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
Updated 24 min 51 sec ago
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Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
  • The UN has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya
  • The weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks

ISLAMABAD: An estimated 200,000 people in Pakistan could be affected by the upcoming monsoon season, which is expected to bring heavier rains than usual, a top UN official warned on Thursday.
The United Nations, with help from local authorities, has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya, the newly appointed Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.
Yahya told journalists in Islamabad that the weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks. However, the rains would not be as heavy as in 2022 when devastating floods killed 1,739 people, destroyed 2 million homes, and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point.
Pakistan is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, in part because of its immense northern glaciers, which are now melting as air temperatures rise. Warmer air can also hold more moisture, intensifying the rains of the monsoon.
Until recently, public opinion and even some government officials took little account of the possible negative impact from climate change on daily life. Pakistan’s weather patterns have changed in recent years, forcing cities to strengthen their infrastructure and farmers to adapt their practices.
The 2022 floods caused more than $30 billion in damage to Pakistan’s already cash-strapped economy.
Analysts and government officials say Pakistan in recent years failed to achieve goals for economic growth because of man-made disasters, which have repeatedly hit the country in the form of droughts, heatwaves and heavy rains, which badly damaged the road network, bridges, power system and other infrastructure.
Pakistan says despite contributing less than 1 percent to carbon emissions worldwide, it is bearing the brunt of global climate disasters. This year, Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall.
Yahya said he was in contact with officials at Pakistan’s ministry of climate change, who were preparing their contingency own plans for monsoon season, which in Pakistan runs from July to October.
Earlier this week, weather forecasters in Pakistan urged people to stay indoors as the third heatwave in a month began. A recent study by the United Nations children’s agency said that Pakistan could avert 175,000 deaths by 2030 by developing resilient energy systems to power its health facilities.
On Thursday, temperatures in various parts of Pakistan soared as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), forcing many people to stay indoors. Authorities are asking people to hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel.


UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power
Updated 13 June 2024
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UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power
  • Starmer said a Labour government would “stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country”

MANCHESTER: The left-of-center politician aiming to become Britain’s prime minister in three weeks’ time said Thursday he will lead a government that’s both “pro-business and pro-worker” and restore stability after years of economic and political turmoil.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that if he’s elected on July 4, he will end the “desperate era of gestures and gimmicks” of the Conservative Party’s turbulent tenure.
Launching Labour’s election manifesto in the northwest England city of Manchester, Starmer said a Labour government would “stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country.”
Next month British voters will elect lawmakers to fill all 650 seats in the House of Commons, and the leader of the party that can command a majority — either alone or in coalition — will become prime minister. Labour currently has a double-digit lead in opinion polls over Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ‘s governing Conservatives, who have been in power for 14 years under five different prime ministers.
The Conservatives jettisoned two prime ministers without an election in quick succession in 2022: first Boris Johnson, felled by scandals, then Liz Truss, who rocked the economy with drastic tax-slashing plans and lasted just seven weeks in office.
Starmer, a former chief prosecutor who is widely seen as competent but dull, is trying to turn his stolid image into an asset. His core message is that he has transformed Labour from its high-taxing, big-spending days under former leader Jeremy Corbyn into a party of the stable center.
Starmer said his platform was “a manifesto for wealth creation,” and acknowledged that a Labour government would face “hard choices” about public spending.
“We cannot play fast and loose with the public finances,” he said. He said he rejected the idea that “the only levers are tax and spend,” and would get the economy expanding after years of sluggish growth.
Starmer’s cautious economic approach dismays some in his party, who want bolder change, but has won the support of many business leaders.
Starmer called the party’s platform a manifesto for “wealth creation,” and its ambitious goals were largely long-term ones: establishing a new industrial policy, developing a 10-year infrastructure strategy, building 1.5 million new homes.
Labour pledged to improve ties with Britain’s former partners in the European Union, but ruled out a return to the bloc’s frictionless single market and customs union.
The plan’s spending commitments were modest. The manifesto forecasts that taxes will rise by 7.4 billion pounds ($9.25 billion) by 2028-29, through measures including a windfall tax on energy companies.
Starmer said personal taxes would not rise under a Labour government, but that did not stop the Conservatives casting Labour as the high-tax party.
“If you think they’ll win, start saving,” Sunak wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Starmer spoke at the headquarters of the Co-op, a Manchester-founded cooperative society that has grown into a large retail and services empire. He introduced several voters, including a father whose family of four live in a one-bedroom apartment, and Nathaniel Dye, a man with terminal cancer campaigning for faster treatment.
The only unscripted moment came from a demonstrator calling for Labour to have tougher climate change policies, who was swiftly removed.
Sunak released the Conservative manifesto — the party’s key handbook of promises — on Tuesday, pledging to cut taxes and reduce immigration if the Conservative Party is reelected.
Labour’s 131-page manifesto included previously announced plans, with little in the way of last-minute treats to woo voters.
“It’s not about rabbits out of a hat, it’s not about pantomime,” Starmer said. “I’m running as a candidate to be prime minister, not a candidate to run the circus.”


NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness

NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness
Updated 13 June 2024
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NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness

NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness
  • “The offers on the table from allies comfortably exceed the 300,000 that we set,” the official said
  • The push to have more troops ready to respond quickly is part of a broader overhaul of NATO’s plans to stave off any potential Russian attack

BRUSSELS: NATO countries have “comfortably exceeded” a target of placing 300,000 troops on high-readiness as the alliance grapples with the threat from Russia, a senior alliance official said Thursday.
NATO leaders agreed in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to massively ramp up the number of forces that alliance commanders can deploy within 30 days.
“The offers on the table from allies comfortably exceed the 300,000 that we set,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“Those are forces which allies have said to us, ‘They are available to you as of now at that level of readiness’.”
The push to have more troops ready to respond quickly is part of a broader overhaul of NATO’s plans to stave off any potential Russian attack that was signed off at a summit last year.
Those plans laid out for the first time since the end of the Cold War what each member of the US-led alliance would be expected to do in case of an invasion by Moscow.
NATO commanders are currently trying to make sure they have the capabilities to execute those plans if needed.
But the alliance faces shortfalls in key weaponry such as air defenses and longer-range missiles.
“There are capability gaps. There are things that we don’t have enough of as an alliance at the moment and we need to tackle,” the official said.


Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard

Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard
Updated 13 June 2024
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Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard

Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard
  • 53 have filed a group criminal complaint, alleging the coast guard took hours to mount a response despite warnings from EU border agency Frontex and the NGO Alarm Phone
  • The case is still under preliminary investigation by the naval court of Piraeus

ATHENS: A year after one of the Mediterranean’s worst migrant shipwrecks killed more than 600 people, lawyers for survivors pursuing a criminal case against the Greek coast guard gave fresh details on the case Thursday.
The rusty and overloaded trawler Adriana sank on the night of June 13-14 last year. It was carrying more than 750 people, according to the United Nations, but only 82 bodies were found.
Lawyers representing dozens of survivors held a news conference after a court in Kalamata last month dropped charges against nine Egyptian men accused of being part of the criminal gang operating the trawler.
Among the 104 survivors, 53 have filed a group criminal complaint, alleging the coast guard took hours to mount a response despite warnings from EU border agency Frontex and the NGO Alarm Phone.
“This was a crime committed over a 15-hour period,” Eleni Spathana, a lawyer with the Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) group, told journalists.
The case is still under preliminary investigation by the naval court of Piraeus, but the survivors’ lawyers say they have found many irregularities in the Greek coast guard’s actions before and after the incident.
The boat was sailing from Tobruk, Libya to Italy. In addition to Syrians and Palestinians, it was carrying nearly 350 Pakistanis, according to the Pakistani government.
Survivors said the coast guard was towing the vessel when it capsized and sank 47 nautical miles off the coast of Pylos.
The coast guard has insisted it communicated with people on board who “refused any help,” rendering any rescue operation in high seas risky.
But on Thursday Maria Papamina, legal coordinator for the Greek Council for Refugees, said the coast guard chose to dispatch a patrol boat from Crete — and not a larger rescue tugboat stationed closer by at the Peloponnese port of Gythio.
The patrol boat’s voyage data recorder was damaged and was only repaired two months after the accident, Papamina added. Nor was there any video footage from the patrol boat.
“There are reasonable concerns of an attempted cover-up,” she said.
Spathana of the RSA added: “There was clearly no intent to rescue before the boat sank. Not only is this terrifying, it is criminally liable.”
Eighteen of the victims remain unburied, including eight still to be identified.
The independent Greek ombudsman’s office has launched a disciplinary investigation into the case, after the coast guard saw no grounds to do so, the lawyers said Thursday.
On Friday, victims’ relatives in Pakistan plan to gather in the city of Lala Musa to protest the lack of response from the Greek authorities to the tragedy, organizers in Athens said.