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.


‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
Updated 57 min 19 sec ago
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‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
  • Ousmane Dembele: ‘We need to mobilize to get out and vote’
  • FFF planning player proxy vote if still involved in Euro 2024

PADERBORN, Germany: France star Ousmane Dembele admitted on Thursday the political situation in the country had “set alarm bells ringing” and said he and his teammates intended to vote in upcoming legislative elections even if they are still involved at Euro 2024 in Germany.
“We need to mobilize to get out and vote,” Dembele told reporters at the French team’s training base in western Germany where they are preparing for their opening European Championship game against Austria on Monday.
“I think the situation in France has set alarm bells ringing. Everyone needs to rally round and come together to vote.”
President Emmanuel Macron has called elections for the lower house National Assembly with the first round set for June 30 and the second round on July 7.
He announced the snap poll last Sunday in response to the results of the EU elections, in which far-right parties — including the top-scoring National Rally (RN) — managed to take almost 40 percent of the vote in France.
“I was watching the news not long ago and I saw that one in every two people in France doesn’t vote, so everyone needs to vote in the legislative elections,” added Dembele, the former Barcelona winger now playing back in France for Paris Saint-Germain.
The French squad will still be in Germany at the time of the election, provided they make it beyond the group stage.
The first round of the election is set to take place the same weekend as the last 16 of Euro 2024, while the second round comes just after the quarter-finals.
However, Dembele said the French Football Federation was planning to help players set up a proxy vote if they remained in Germany at the time.


Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
  • Pope Francis is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions
  • Pope will have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will meet with the leaders of the United States, Ukraine, France and India, among others, on the sidelines of the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Italy, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Francis, who in January warned against the “perverse” dangers of artificial intelligence, is due to take part in leaders’ talks on the new technology on Friday.

He is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions.

Issuing a program for his one-day appearance, the Vatican said Francis would have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, a fellow Catholic.

The Vatican said he would also have one-on-one meetings with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, France’s Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kenya’s William Ruto,

Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.

Francis and Biden met at the Vatican in 2021 and the president said the pope told him he was a “good Catholic” who can receive communion even as conservative US bishops wanted to deny it because of Biden’s support for abortion rights.

The two men also spoke in October last year about the crisis in the Middle East after Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Biden has spoken movingly of his respect for the pope, praising his empathy and calling him a “decent man.” They stay in touch, Biden has said.


Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building
  • The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website

LOS ANGELES: A takeover of a building at California State University, Los Angeles, by demonstrators protesting Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, leaving the facility trashed and covered with graffiti, TV news reports showed.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building on Wednesday and workers inside were told to shelter in place, but it was empty by Thursday morning, said university spokesperson Erik Frost Hollins.
“What I can tell you, at the moment, is that the building is clear of employees and protesters and the building is secure,” said Frost Hollins, who did not immediately offer details on what occurred overnight.
The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website announcing that all main campus classes and operations would be remote until further notice and asking people to stay away.
Images from the scene showed graffiti on the building, furniture blocking doorways and overturned golf carts, picnic tables and umbrellas barricading the plaza out front.
The CSULA Gaza Solidarity Encampment, a group that has camped near the campus gym for about 40 days, sent an email indicating that members were staging a sit-in in the building, Hollins said.


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 13 June 2024
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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 13 June 2024
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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.