Addressing Racism Towards Moroccans In France: A Call for Equality and Inclusion

Addressing Racism Towards Moroccans In France: A Call for Equality and Inclusion

During France’s victory over Morocco in the World Cup semifinal, more than 120 individuals were taken into custody on Wednesday night for what legislators condemned as “racist violence” in Paris and other French towns. Fears of potential riots led to the mobilization of over 10,000 police personnel throughout France, of which 5,000 were sent to Paris and its environs. Even with the precautions, far-right organizations continued to target Moroccan supporters with physical and verbal abuse as wild celebrations broke out all throughout the nation following France’s 2-0 victory.

Manifestations of Racism:

According to local media, at least 115 persons were detained in Paris and the neighboring territories overall. 40 far-right suspects were among them, according to the sources, and they were attempting to enter the capital’s main area, the Champs-Elysees, which was crowded with football spectators. There were also reports of violence in big towns including Montpellier, Nice, and Lyon. Following a brawl between opposing supporters in Lyon, at least six people two of whom belonged to a right-wing organization were taken into custody, according to sources. 

Thomas Portes, a French legislator, denounced the “planned attacks” and “racist violence” directed towards Moroccan supporters. “A terrible thing is about to happen. We have to respond,” he tweeted. Another lawmaker, Antoine Leaument, said that Moroccan supporters in Nice were accosted by “fascists shouting racist remarks.” He said in a tweet that “racism is a crime” and demanded that those who practice it face consequences in line with French law.

Challenges and Impact

Moments after France’s victory over Morocco to go to the World Cup final in Qatar throngs of football fans descended upon Paris, gathering at the Champs-Elysées, the city’s customary gathering place for exuberant supporters. The majority wore the French tricolor, but a sizable group, comprising several French nationals of Moroccan heritage, flew the Lions of the Atlas red-and-green flag. Both were in a festive mood, with Moroccan supporters eager to honor a fantastic World Cup run. 

A mile from the Champs-Elysées, in the upscale 17th arrondissement of the capital, police officers acting on intelligence stopped several dozen people who were allegedly about to go on a racist rampage outside of a club.  During body inspections, a cache of weapons including tactical gloves, tear gas canisters, shin guards, and batons was discovered. One was found in possession of stickers bearing the three initials GUD, which stands for “Groupe Union Défense,” a violent far-right student organization that went dormant at the beginning of the century but has since resurfaced. 

Pathways to Change

About half of the 38 individuals arrested 14 were known to have been members of various far-right organizations, the majority of which are now illegal. Twelve were designated as “fiché S,” denoting a possible danger to the security of the country. Most of them were from the Paris area, but others had come from as far away as Brittany. Marc de Cacqueray-Valménier was one of the seven men in the dock. He is a prominent member of the French ultra-droite, a phrase used to describe extreme-right groups with neo-Nazi inclinations

He is thought to have been the leader of the violent Zouaves Paris gang, a GUD branch that was outlawed the previous year. The 24-year-old son of an ultra-Catholic aristocratic family has previously experienced many legal run-ins, including a suspended jail sentence for his role in violent altercations at a Yellow Vest protest in December 2018 outside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Cacqueray-Valménier, who has contested the verdict, was given a year in jail in January 2022 for assaulting the Saint-Sauveur pub in Paris, a well-known anti-fascist refugee. In addition, he is being investigated for a violent assault on anti-racism demonstrators who interrupted a far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour’s event. 

Racism Sparks Olympic Boycott Calls: Urgent Need For Inclusion

The racism incidents surrounding France’s victory over Morocco in the World Cup semifinal have sparked widespread condemnation, leading to concerns about safety and security. With over 120 individuals detained for racist violence during celebrations, the atmosphere remains tense. This surge in racism has tarnished France’s global image, prompting calls for a boycott of the Paris Olympics 2024 to protest against discrimination. The prevalence of racism, particularly targeting Moroccan communities, highlights the urgent need for societal change and greater inclusion. Politicians and activists warn against the divisive rhetoric propagated by the extreme right, emphasizing the importance of fostering unity and embracing diversity to combat racism effectively.

In conclusion, Politicians and anti-racism activists on the left have said that the extreme right is inciting hatred against immigrant communities with links to former French colonies, like Morocco, by disseminating divisive rhetoric ahead of the World Cup match. Zemmour’s close friend and supporter Damien Rieu called the historic semi-final a “clash of civilisations,” and Zemmour repeated his criticism of the French team for having too many players with “foreign-sounding names.” Speaking on France 2, deputy leader of the French National Assembly and politician in Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, Sébastien Chenu said that when French nationals “have a heart that beats for another country it raises questions about their assimilation” into French culture. 



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