French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized for failing to address the human rights issue of racial discrimination and police violence in France, as the country faces its fourth night of widespread protests over the killing of a teenager by police.
The unrest was sparked by the shooting of Nahel M, a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent, during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday. A video of the incident showed an officer firing his gun at Nahel despite not appearing to face any immediate threat. The officer has been detained and is under investigation for voluntary homicide.
The killing of Nahel has ignited anger and frustration among France’s marginalized communities, who have long complained of racial profiling, harassment and brutality by the police. Many protesters have also accused Macron of being out of touch with the realities of discrimination and inequality in France, and of prioritizing his own political agenda over the demands for justice and accountability.
Macron, who is seeking re-election next year, has appealed to parents to keep their children at home and blamed social media platforms for fueling the violence. He said some of the rioters were “intoxicated” by video games and had lost touch with reality. He also called for measures to remove “sensitive content” from social media platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat, which he said were used to organize violent gatherings.
However, Macron has not addressed the underlying causes of the protests, such as the lack of trust and dialogue between the police and the public, the need for reforms and oversight of the police force, and the recognition and protection of human rights for all people in France. His silence on these issues has been seen by many as a sign of indifference or denial.
Some human rights groups and activists have urged Macron to acknowledge the problem of systemic racism and police abuse in France, and to take concrete steps to prevent further violations and ensure accountability. They have also called for an independent and impartial investigation into Nahel’s killing, as well as other cases of police violence against people of color.
The protests have spread to several cities across France, including Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille and Bordeaux. More than 200 police officers have been injured and hundreds of vehicles, buildings and shops have been torched or looted. The authorities have banned demonstrations in some areas and deployed more police forces to restore order