French peace campaigner appeals for end to violent protests over police shooting

Looting and clashes erupted across France following teenager's death

A French riot officer during a third night of violence over the police shooting of a 17-year-old in Nanterre. AP
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A leading French social unity campaigner has called for an end to the violence after a third night of riots across France following the fatal police shooting of a teenager during a traffic check.

Shops, supermarkets and public properties were vandalised and looted in Paris and far beyond. More than 650 were arrested after protesters clashed with police.

French-Moroccan activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten, whose son Imad was murdered by Toulouse terrorist Mohamed Merah in 2012, said: “I solemnly call for appeasement. I understand the anger, but escalating violence will solve nothing.”

On Twitter Ms Ibn Ziaten said she had been on the memorial march led by the mother of Nahel M, the 17-year-old who was shot dead on Tuesday morning.

The march ended with riot police firing tear gas as several cars were set alight in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teenager had lived and was killed.

Ms Ibn Ziaten, the President of the IMAD Ibn Ziaten Association for Youth and Peace, said the clashes reflected the disconnect between the youth and society.

She urged parents to talk with their children and discourage them from violence, calling instead for unity and constructive mobilisation.

Ali Rabeh, the mayor of Trappes, one of the towns hit by violence, said: “Last night, the Republic watched helplessly as a time bomb exploded.”

He called for an urgent social unity policy to dismantle the ghettos of both poverty and wealth.

He painted a picture of two Frances, side by side, yet refusing to mingle or acknowledge each other.

Mr Rabeh said schools should not be factories of academic failure, reinforcing inequalities and concentrating difficulties.

He added that young people should not have to face barriers due to their names, skin colour, or address.

The death of Nahel, has stirred nationwide uproar, leading to widespread property damage and confrontations with law enforcement.

In her first media interview since the shooting, Nahel's mother, Mounia, told the France 5 channel: “I don't blame the police, I blame one person: the one who took the life of my son.”

She said the 38-year-old officer responsible, who was detained and charged with voluntary manslaughter on Thursday, “saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life”.

In response to the unrest, French authorities deployed tens of thousands of police officers and imposed curfews in various cities.

However, Thursday night saw stores In Paris looted and windows smashed along the Rue de Rivoli shopping street, near the Louvre museum, and at the Forum des Halles mall, where a Nike shoe store was broken into.

Several Casino supermarkets were also looted across the country, according to reports.

A police station in the Pyrenees city of Pau was hit with a Molotov cocktail and an elementary school and a district office set on fire in Lille.

In Marseille, a library was vandalised and scuffles broke out nearby when police used tear gas to disperse a group of up to 150 people who allegedly tried to set up barricades.

Updated: June 30, 2023, 1:21 PM