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The Anger of Immigrants: What’s going on in France’s Riot?

Latest on 30 June 2023, France is facing the most serious riots in the past 72 hours, scattering around different parts of the country like Marseille, Lyon and Grenoble, with its capital Paris experiencing the largest scales of protest activities among all. 

As netizens continue to post buildings put on fire and masked protestors rushed into shops to loot goods on platforms like Twitter, the hashtags like #FranceHasFallen and #FranceProtest became the hot trend on social media platforms. The riot was also commonly compared to the recent greatest riot France faced in 2005, almost 2 decades ago, where the government have to force declare a state of emergency to stop the destruction. 

 According to statistics, it was estimated that over 41 police stations were under attack last night, with 2560 places being set on fire, and over 1300 cars burnt, forcing the French government to deploy 45000 police to attempt to control the chaotic situation. Videos have shown that public and private properties were looted, buildings like pharmacies collapsed after the viscous burning, with viral TikTok’s capturing cars being pushed out of car parks, straightly crashing to the ground and causing mass explosions.

As reported by several media like the BBC, the new rounds of riots were sparked by the recent death of a 17-year-old African teen named Nahel M in Nanterre, located in a western suburban part of the capital Paris, the fatal result was after a gunshot in the chest as he refused to stop for a police license check by the street. The officer, who is currently under detention and going through an official investigation for voluntary homicide, claimed that he opened fire in fear of the Boy running away. 

The government responded quickly after the shocking incident. As reported by French news outlet France 24, despite the official initially trying to defend the police and calling the public to await justice through investigation, the clear footage from a bystander point of view completely changed the situation, eventually, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolence to the tragedy on June 28, 2023, commenting that it is inexplicable and unforgivable. 

The incident uncovered how serious institutional racism still lies within France's public services, possibly marking a new chapter for the country. Despite the latest statistics from the national statistics agency INSEE (The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) showing that almost 1 in 10 people is an immigrant in the country, showing how important immigrants are to the country, racism in France can be traced back to colonial periods and have inherited in the country, that despite government’s great aim to become more equal, the reality is always another case, as races like Arabs and Africans became majority victims in police killing cases. 

 Yet government replies have not been able to tackle and calm the furious immigrant population. Addressing the riots on June 30, 2023, Macron criticized how the people are exploiting the death of Nahel, condemning the violence throughout the past days, while blaming social media like TikTok and Twitter for spreading sensitive content like organizing violent acts, as he urged parents to keep watch on their child, after disclosing the youngest arrested protestors being 13-year-old. Due July 1, 2023, the French interior ministry announced that 1311 people are arrested in the past few days. As riots seem to have weakened with increased police deployment, the unrest left France at a good time to review its internal issue, perhaps a long-needed change to eradicate problems like racism. As arrest number continue to increase but riots seemed to be calmer, with Marcon postponing his visit to Germany too, the state will have to find better solutions to resolve its on-going social conflict.

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