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Macron told more than 200 mayors during a meeting that France should look into controlling or cutting off social media access for young people “when things get out of hand,” The Guardian reported. His comments come as France faces violent rioting across the country after a 17-year-old Muslim was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop last week. Macron pinned some blame for the rioting on social media sites like TikTok being used to organize the mobs.
“We need to think about how young people use social networks … when things get out of hand, we may have to regulate them or cut them off,” Macron said. “Above all, we shouldn’t do this in the heat of the moment and I’m pleased we didn’t have to.”
“I think it’s a real debate that we need to have in the cold light of day,” he added.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle criticized the prime minister’s suggestion, saying it would make France more like authoritarian regimes.
“Cut social media? Like China, Iran, North Korea? Even if it’s a provocation to distract attention, it’s in very bad taste,” said Olivier Marleix, a member of the center-Right Les Républicains.
The leader of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, also slammed Macron’s idea, tweeting, “The country of the rights of man and citizens cannot align itself with those great democracies of China, Russia and Iran.”
Over the weekend, 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; and in Marseilles, the country’s largest library was burned. The headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics in Seine-Saint-Denis was also set on fire.
France deployed 45,000 police to counter the rioting, but that didn’t stop mobs from setting more than 800 fires throughout the night Saturday, the BBC reported. French businesses have reportedly lost more than $1 billion since the rioting began.
About 3,500 people have been arrested after police shot teenager Nahel Merzouk. According to Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache, French police were attempting to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle Merzouk was driving, but he did not stop and drove through a red light. Police later caught up to the vehicle, then stuck in traffic, and told Merzouk to get out. As the car attempted to drive away, an officer shot the teen, Prache said.
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.