By Davide Basso
(EurActiv) — French President Emmanuel Macron denounced on Friday (30 June) what he termed “unacceptable” attempts to use the recent death of a teenager at the hands of the police to spread riots across the country.
Measures to contain the situation, which could entail declaring a state of emergency or imposing a curfew, are expected later on Friday.
Since the killing of a young man on Tuesday (27 June) during a police check, riots have spread across France and gained intensity.
During the night of Thursday to Friday, 492 buildings were damaged, 2,000 vehicles were burnt and 3,880 street fires were set, Macron said on Friday. As many as 249 police officers and gendarmes were injured, compared with around 20 the previous night. At the time of writing, at least 875 people have been arrested.
At the end of a meeting of the interministerial crisis unit, Macron denounced what he called the “unacceptable instrumentalisation of the death of a teenager” when the situation called for “meditation and respect”.
The president said he firmly condemned the attitude of “those who are using this situation […] to try to create disorder”, saying they “bear an overwhelming de facto responsibility”.
The government indicated on Friday that it had “no taboos” about the measures that could be taken to guarantee public safety, and some provisions are due to be announced later on Friday by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. Several towns instituted curfews on Thursday evening.
Several events have been cancelled and public transport restricted. In the Paris region, buses and trams will stop running from 9 pm on Friday evening. In Lyon and Marseille, the country’s two largest cities after Paris, all public transport will be suspended from 8 pm and 7 pm, respectively.
Macron called on “all parents to take responsibility”, given that “a third of those arrested were young or very young people”.
Among those responsible for the riots that have swept across France in recent days are “organised, sometimes violent and well-equipped groups”, explained Macron.
He also emphasised the role of social networks, in particular, Snapchat and TikTok, which “play a considerable role” as focal points for the “organisation of violent gatherings”.
As a result, the French government will be working to remove “the most sensitive content” from these platforms and requesting access to data that will enable it to identify “those who use these networks to incite disorder or exacerbate violence”.
A number of European countries have issued reactions to the tense situation.
The British government called on its citizens in France to “avoid areas where rioting is taking place” as “the location and timing of riots is unpredictable”.
Norway issued a similar message to its citizens in France, while Germany said through a government spokesman it was following “with some concern what is happening”.
At this stage, the spokesman said, he had no information on whether Macron’s state visit to Germany, scheduled to start on Monday, would be cancelled.
The UN called on France to “seriously address the deep issues of racism and social discrimination in law enforcement”.