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Nearly 1,000 rioters were arrested last night for taking part in the most violent protests in years in France, according to estimates by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Violent protests erupted in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teen was shot, after a 17-year-old teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent was killed by a police officer on Tuesday. The violence then spread throughout the country and its main cities.
The shooting death of the teenager, identified as Nahel M., rekindled long-standing tensions between the youth. suburbs – a generally disadvantaged and multi-ethnic neighborhood – and police were accused of brutality and racial discrimination. Nahel’s funeral was due to take place on Saturday, with officials bracing for more demonstrations.
To quell the turmoil, France deployed 45,000 police and gendarmes to all major cities on Friday night, 5,000 of whom were tasked with patrolling Paris. Authorities imposed a curfew around the capital, banned public gatherings in some municipalities and halted all bus and tram services after 9 p.m.
Despite massive security efforts, the unrest does not appear to have subsided, with public buildings, hotels, shops and cars being targeted and set on fire.
Darmanin said that 200 police officers have been injured since the riots began.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the teen’s killing was “inexplicable” and “inexcusable”, though he immediately blamed for Social media for spreading violent content and inciting violence after the tragic incident.
“We have seen violent meetings being held at many places [social media platforms] — but it is also a kind of imitation of violence,” Macron accused young rioters on Friday of “living in video games that have intoxicated them.”
Religious leaders, including the rector of Paris’s Grand Mosque, Chaims-Edienne Hafiz, called for an end to the violence.
France fears a repeat of civil unrest in 2005, when two African-American teenagers were electrocuted at a power substation while trying to escape police, prompting three weeks of rioting in the country.