Protests & Riots: Why France Is Burning?

Protests & Riots: Why France Is Burning?

A renowned philosopher of the 19th Century, Thomas Jefferson, once said, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” In the same context, France is witnessing a massive wave of violent protests and riots initiated in the wake of the event of the shooting of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old Algerian boy. The reflection of deep-seated grievances within French society can be seen in the form of local unrest which has quickly spread across cities and even small towns of France. These riots and protests have highlighted prolonged issues of brutality by police, economic inequality, and social discrimination. This analysis offers a concise overview of the underlying factors that have contributed to these protests and riots in France.

Let’s have a deeper look at these underlying factors to understand the issue from a broader perspective:

The Incidence of the Shooting of Nahel Merzouk:

Nahel Merzouk, a citizen of France of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was brutally killed in a shooting by a police officer during a traffic stop in a Parisian suburb. Initially, the police officer, who shot the boy, claimed that he was in immediate danger that’s why he had no option other than to shoot the boy. However, later when the video of the incident circulated around social media, it contradicted the claim of the officer. The widespread circulation of the video resulted in extensive public outrage and triggered immense protests. 

Longstanding Grievances and Socioeconomic Factors:

Among the participants in protests, the majority of the protestors are young people, belonging to a high immigrant population, who feel marginalized and mistreated. These communities often feel that they have been sidelined in terms of access to job opportunities, and mistreated by police in a discriminatory manner. Through the acts of violence and vandalism, protestors are expressing their discontent which reflects their deeper frustration coupled with social and economic inequality within their very own country.

Historical Context and Previous Protests:

This is not the first time France is facing such immense protesting and riots. The contemporary protests are reminding the riots of 2005, which started after the accidental deaths of two teenagers during a chase by police. On the other hand, France has a variety of such historical incidents of mass mobilization and protest notably the Yellow Vest movement and demonstration against pension reforms. The historical background of these events is a clear depiction of the current scenario that these are not isolated incidents but part of a larger display of social dissatisfaction.

Response of Leadership and Investigation

In response to these devastating developments, French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled his foreign visits and official engagements to address and mitigate the fundamental causes of the unrest. For that purpose, he has planned to meet with around 200 mayors of affected towns to understand the situation from a broader perspective. On the other hand, the officer responsible for the killing of Nahel Merzouk is facing charges of voluntary homicide and has been placed under a formal investigation. Simultaneously, police on a large scale, have been deployed to counter the menace posed by the violent riots and protests.

As a Final Point

The riots and demonstrations that attacked France after the Nahel Merzouk shooting incident reflect a number of complex factors, including socio-economic inequality and deep-rooted social tensions. In the meantime, small cities outside of major cities have been affected by the widespread nature of the demonstrations. The government and society as a whole need to address these fundamental issues to prevent further unrest and be more inclusive. France is very important for promoting fairness. So, the ultimate responsibility lies with the French government to understand and address these issues in a sustained manner so that they do not occur every once in a while.



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