France Burns As Big-City Riots Escalate In Wake Of Police Shooting
Stephane Rouppert/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Huge riots have escalated all over France in the wake of the police shooting of a 17-year-old Algerian Muslim, prompting authorities to deploy 40,000 police on the streets of major cities including Paris Thursday night.

The incident which sparked the rioting occurred Tuesday, when a police officer shot and killed Nahel M. during a traffic stop in Nanterre, west of Paris. According to Reuters, the teenager was driving in the bus lane during a traffic jam when he was pulled over to stop, but refused to provide a license and then tried to drive away. The officer shot him in the left arm and chest, according to the Nanterre public prosecutor, who added that the officer feared the teenager would start a car chase and injure others. Police said Nahel M. had been known to ignore traffic stops before.

“He had to be stopped, but obviously (the officer) didn’t want to kill the driver,” the police officer’s attorney stated.

Riots were reported from Paris — where a dozen buses were burned and store windows were smashed along the rue de Rivoli — all the way to Roubaix in the north and Marseille in the south as well as Reims and Lyon. In Drancy, a Paris suburb, a shopping mall was burned; in Marseilles, the country’s largest library was burned. The headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics in Seine-Saint-Denis were set on fire.

“These acts are intolerable and inexcusable,” French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne stated.

“The state must be firm in its response,” Darmanin stated. He also said 875 people were arrested on Thursday night.

The “rioting has escalated,” France 24’s international affairs editor Angela Diffley said. “It appears to be morphing into something closer to general rioting. We saw a huge amount of looting and pillaging of ordinary businesses and some high-end shops.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, who condemned Nahel M.’s killing, has previously restricted several mosques and Muslim associations that his government said promoted “Islamist separatism.”

Itay Lotem, senior lecturer in French studies at the University of Westminster, told Sky News that the events following Nahel M’s death were “nearly well-rehearsed,” adding, “A police officer kills a teenager from one of the underprivileged communities around Paris, triggering ripples of anger. Groups of disaffected youth take to the streets of the banlieue and target symbols of the state, whether police stations or schools.”

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