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France riots: Macron urges parents to keep teenagers at home

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French President Emmanuel Macron has made an appeal to parents to prevent their children from participating in the ongoing riots and has called on social media platforms to remove content related to the violent events. The riots were sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager of North African descent and have continued for three consecutive nights. President Macron addressed the public after chairing a crisis security meeting, revealing that a significant portion of those arrested during the riots were young individuals.

President Macron emphasized the responsibility of parents in keeping their children at home during these tumultuous times, stating that it is not the state’s role to take action in their place. He also directed his appeal to social media firms, recognizing their significant influence in recent events. Platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok have reportedly been used to organize violent gatherings and have contributed to a sense of mimicry and detachment from reality among some young people.

According to Al Jazeera correspondent Natacha Butler, who reported from Nanterre outside Paris, the majority of protesters involved in the riots were between the ages of 14 and 18, according to French police. Butler noted that the police described the protesters as highly organized and motivated. President Macron also announced that additional police officers would be deployed throughout the country.

However, President Macron did not implement a state of emergency at this time. The violence has spread to several cities, including Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse, Lille, and parts of Paris. The shooting of Nahel M, a teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent, during a traffic stop in Nanterre, triggered the riots. The authorities reported that over 200 police officers were injured, and 875 individuals were arrested overnight. Rioters have set fire to buildings, buses, and other vehicles, as well as looting stores.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne expressed the government’s stance on the violence, calling it “intolerable and inexcusable” and stating that all options would be considered to restore order. The head of the Alliance police union, Rudy Manna, expressed doubt that the perpetrators would face significant consequences.

In response to the situation, authorities in Marseille banned public demonstrations and halted public transport services early. Similar measures were taken in Paris, where tram and bus services were limited. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had previously increased national police deployments to 40,000 officers, resulting in 249 injuries among them.

The protests have also affected Enedis, a power distribution company, with several staff members being injured by thrown stones. The interior ministry reported that 79 police posts and 119 public buildings, including 34 town halls and 28 schools, were attacked during the riots.

The United Nations human rights office in Geneva stressed the importance of peaceful assembly and called on French authorities to ensure that police use force legally, proportionally, and without discrimination. The office urged France to address the deep-rooted issues of racism and racial discrimination within law enforcement agencies. Macron’s government previously pledged to have “zero tolerance” for racism within these institutions.

The police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Nahel M was placed under formal investigation for voluntary homicide and is currently in custody. His lawyer stated that the officer had aimed at the driver’s leg but accidentally shot the teenager in the chest due to a bump. Western governments, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have advised their citizens in France to exercise caution, avoiding mass gatherings and areas with significant police activity. The UK also warned of possible curfews and disruptions to transportation.

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