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POLITICS

Unemployment, social stratification, and ghetto denial. How France became the epicenter of unrest

Last week, Emmanuel Macron announced his plans to “significantly reduce immigration, starting with illegal entries,” while former President Sarkozy pointed out that the nation's authorities have “lost their credibility” and recalled his earlier warning in 2010 regarding the “relationship between crime and immigration.” All these discussions have arisen in response to the widespread unrest that swept through France this summer. Alongside immigration, authorities consistently point fingers at social media, video games, and the parents of teenagers for various issues. However, experts argue that video games are unrelated and suggest directing attention to the unique characteristics of French social housing districts, the high unemployment rate among young people, and the longstanding problem of law enforcement overstepping their bounds, including incidents with racial undertones.

Content
  • Engulfed in crisis

  • Blame placed on parents, video games, and the internet

  • Isolated neighborhoods

  • Avoid mentioning “ghettoization”

  • What does unemployment have to do with it?

  • Family Support and Education System Crisis

  • Abuse of office

  • Justice on the side of the police

  • Chicken Flu

Engulfed in crisis

On June 27, 2023, in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre, a pair of Road Police (DOPC) officers signaled a yellow Mercedes A-Class to halt. The driver, 17-year-old Hahel Merzouk, continued driving, only stopping when the police officers blocked his path. According to the official account, the officers aimed their firearms at Nahel and struck him three times. After one of the officers threatened him with a gunshot to the head, Nahel, seemingly in a state of panic, released the car's brakes. The Mercedes began to move, and a gunshot rang out as the the police officer gave the order to shoot. Reportedly, Nahel's final words were, “He's gone crazy, he fired.” The car rolled down the street and crashed into a fence.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene were unable to resuscitate the teenager. Videos of the actual shooting soon appeared on social media, along with a recording of a paramedic's desperate screams at the police after confirming Nahel's death: “He's just 17, you can clearly see he's just a child. [...] I know this kid, I watched him grow up! His mother raised him on her own, his father abandoned him, and now she'll have to bury her son! All because he didn't have a driver's license!”

Seventeen-year-old Nahel, of Algerian-Moroccan descent, worked as a pizza delivery driver after dropping out of courses in electrical engineering and mechanics. He had no prior criminal record, but his name appeared in criminal records for traffic violations, drug use, and possession. Over the past three years, Nahel had been brought in for resisting the police on five occasions but was detained only twice, with the most recent arrest occurring just three days before his tragic death on June 24.

“You'll see what happens tonight. Right now, everyone is asleep. You'll see how Nanterre wakes up,” the paramedic concluded. Consequently, not only Nanterre but all of France witnessed a significant upheaval. The day after the teenager's death, a “white march” was organized in Nanterre to show support for his family. Tensions escalated as protesters targeted police stations and government buildings with fireworks, set cars, dumpsters, and buses on fire. French law enforcement responded forcefully, leading to numerous arrests.

Nahel Merzouk
Nahel Merzouk

Two days later, the situation took a turn for the worse. Following an emergency meeting at the Ministry of the Interior, the President of France decided to impose a ban on nighttime events and suspend ground transportation during the evening hours. Even two highly anticipated concerts by Mylène Farmer at the Stade de France with 180,000 spectators were canceled. By the fourth night of protests, 45,000 police officers and gendarmes were involved in quelling the unrest, which accounted for 40% of the active personnel of the Ministry of the Interior. Arrests reached their peak for the week, with 1,311 people detained in a single night.

The turmoil was so intense that Macron had to leave an EU leaders' summit prematurely. Even after the situation calmed down, during the national Bastille Day celebration, he chose not to deliver the traditional speech and only broke his silence at the end of the month on July 24th.

On July 1st, the day of Nahel's funeral, far-right groups began to intensify their activities, patrolling the streets to prevent disorder. Later that same evening, Lyon's police discovered a 12-gauge rifle and a hundred rounds of ammunition in the possession of far-right activists. In Chambéry, several dozen demonstrators took to the streets with nationalist slogans. Some activists began to speak of a “civil racial war.”

On Sunday, July 2nd, Nahel's grandmother, in a telephone comment to the BFM channel, called on protesters not to engage in vandalism: “To those who are breaking things, I say: stop. There's no need to destroy shop windows, schools, buses.” Sympathizers of the deceased teenager and his grandmother collected 325,000 euros for them. The icing on the cake was a statement from politician and media personality Jean Messiha, a supporter of far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour, who announced a counter-collection in support of the family of the police officer who fired the fatal shot. This collection ended on the night of July 4th-5th and reached a total of 1,636,190 euros.

Meanwhile, the unrest did not subside. On July 2nd, in the Val-de-Marne department, a vehicle crashed into the house of a smalltown mayor. The sixth night was notably quieter. On July 3rd, Paris Fashion Week began as if nothing had happened.

According to the French Federation of Insurers, the damage exceeded 650 million euros, three times higher than during previous unrest of a similar scale in 2005. More than 3,900 buildings, including town halls, schools, leisure and social centers, shops, and offices, required repairs.

While this year's unrest broke many records, the transformation of mass protests into street clashes involving rioters and looters in France is not uncommon. One can recall the riots that accompanied the Yellow Vest protests in 2018-2019. Although mass protests are a common occurrence in Europe, for some reason, they rarely escalate into riots and looting in other countries. This phenomenon warrants further explanation.

Blame placed on parents, video games, and the internet

French authorities are attempting to shift responsibility onto parents, claiming that they are not giving their children adequate attention. President Macron and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin have both made statements to this effect. Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti points out that there are legal grounds for this approach: “The Penal Code provides for punishment of up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros for each instance where parents, through their criminal negligence, endanger the education, morality, and safety of their children.”

Out of the 3,600 detained protesters, 1,149 were minors

Compared to 2005, an important factor in the recent unrest has been the presence of social media, sociologist Julie Sedel notes. It's through these platforms that protesters coordinate, allowing everyone to quickly see the circumstances of Nahel's death and other cases of police violence. For example, based on numerous social media testimonies, delivery couriers and taxi drivers face not only constant document checks but also harsh detentions during both strikes and regular working days. On June 30th in Marseille, the special RAID unit knocked down a Deliveroo courier along with his scooter while he was making a delivery.

Authorities are considering addressing this issue through social media control. On July 3rd, Macron confidently stated, “Social networks and platforms have played an important role in recent events. We observe [...] a kind of imitation of violence that encourages young people to escape from reality. Some of them seem to live on the streets through video games that have intoxicated them.”

During a meeting with 220 mayors of cities affected by the protests, the president even proposed the idea of shutting down social media during crisis situations. Mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, shared with LCI and TF1 that Macron “suggested considering the possibility of disabling social media like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram in certain situations,” such as during a state of emergency.

Shifting the discussion towards social media is seen as another way to depoliticize the protests, according to French journalists. Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti threatens to request IP addresses from telecommunications operators, which would allow the authorities to “identify those who use them to find out when, where, and how they plan to break the law.”

Furthermore, this could be a step characteristic of non-democratic regimes. Journalist Salome Sake expressed concern, saying, “Shutting down social media to maintain order is a method used by authoritarian regimes like Iran and Russia.”

Nevertheless, social media and video games exist in all countries, so they cannot explain why mass disturbances and riots often accompany protests in France specifically. How can this phenomenon be explained? According to numerous experts, it is, in part, rooted in historical errors in social policies.

Isolated neighborhoods

n French “suburbs,” in “working neighborhoods,” or “cité” (residential districts built by cities or companies for workers, typically in the suburbs), there is usually a high concentration of immigrants and descendants of migrant families. The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) specifies that as of 2020-2021, migrants make up 20% of Paris residents and 32% of residents in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. In 2012, 38% of all immigrants in France lived in the urban zone of Paris and its suburbs. INSEE notes that the immigrant population, in general, remains highly concentrated, and its geographical distribution has changed little over the years. Among the reasons for such territorial distribution, INSEE cites “several waves of immigration, particularly to the southwest of France and to urbanized and industrial areas of the 1960s.” Indeed, French urban planning involved the construction of social housing estates, which, in their concept and design, effectively isolated their residents from other areas.

As a European country with the highest concentration of high-rise buildings, known as “grand ensembles,” France began demolishing or renovating these high-rise buildings built between 1965 and 1974 since the early 2000s. However, the process is far from complete.

As a result of such isolation, communitarianism began to emerge — a tendency for minority groups to isolate themselves from the rest of society and demand special rights. This phenomenon is observed throughout France, but there are differing opinions on the causes. For some, the problem lies in the perceived increase in the number of immigrants, while for others, it's about societal segregation and integration challenges. According to Libération, “The right-wing never tire of condemning communitarianism or separatism, but they are not interested in the main breeding ground for these two scourges — ghettoization.”

In some suburbs, the police refuse to enter, and some Parisians have never even visited Seine-Saint-Denis or the capital's 18th arrondissement with a large migrant population. French people, in general, prefer the euphemism “lively neighborhoods.” Consequently, so-called “parallel communities“ emerge — poorly integrated communities adhering to their own norms and customs, prone to conflicts with the surrounding majority. Their residents have less interaction with the rest of society, and vice versa. For instance, the head of the Greater Reims metropolis, Catherine Vautrin, laments that people no longer want to visit the suburbs because “it's no longer possible to buy ham there.” Meanwhile, Senator Bruno Retailleau expresses concern about a “regression towards ethnic origin.”

Avoid mentioning “ghettoization”

The term “ghettoization” is now forbidden in France – both sociologists and politicians affirm this. Former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, in an interview with L’Express, calls this phenomenon one of the three key taboos, alongside the questions of integration and Islam. Columnist for Le Monde, Luc Bronner, writes that the issue of “ghettoization” in the poorest areas has been known for the past twenty years, despite the persistent denial of this term by some sociologists and government officials. Some researchers even believe that this problem has persisted for forty years.

For the French, denying “ghettoization” in their own country is also a way to emphasize the difference from the United States, where protests like Black Lives Matter have been taking place. National Secretary of the police union SGP, Jean-Christophe Cuvelier, speaking to the BBC, puts it this way: “France is not the United States. We don't have ghettos. [...] Our law enforcement represents France's multicultural society, with officers from all walks of life. You might find, perhaps, 1% of racists – just like in the rest of society – but no more.”

For the French, denying “ghettoization” in their own country is also a way to emphasize the difference from the United States

For many, it seems that limiting the number of immigrants could alleviate social tensions. This sentiment is not exclusive to the French but is also shared by their European neighbors. German political scientist and Islam expert Ralph Ghadban believes that one of the reasons Germany doesn't witness riots of a similar scale is the lower number of Muslims residing in the country. He refers to them as “people from countries unfamiliar with democracy” and calls for putting an end to “uncontrolled migration” in an article for Focus magazine. President Emmanuel Macron is set to address immigration issues this autumn with a proposal that has been postponed several times. The plan aims to “reduce the number of people entering the country, combat human traffickers, and illegal immigration networks,” as well as “improve integration in sectors that require it.” The President has emphasized his willingness to resort to extreme measures, including using Article 49.3 of the Constitution to pass the law, if necessary. It's worth noting that this article allows legislation to be enacted bypassing Parliament, as was the case with pension reform.

In an August interview with Le Point magazine, Macron, while acknowledging that 90% of the participants in the 2023 riots were born in France, intends to “significantly reduce immigration, starting with illegal entries.” The President is convinced that the authorities need to work on what he calls “re-civilization,” evoking an age-old dichotomy with strong colonial undertones: “civilized” France and “barbarians” (even if they have been living in France for many generations).

François Héran, a demographer and professor at the Collège de France, explains that France is one of the countries where the “number of immigrants on national territory is overestimated due to public debates.” In March 2023, he released a book titled “Immigration: The Great Denial,” in which he argues that there is no “migration tsunami” as claimed by French politicians, EU officials, and even judges. Compared to other European countries, Héran writes that the number of immigrants in France has indeed increased but is significantly less than that of its neighbors. The demographer emphasizes that it's a mistake to present continuous immigration as abnormal. Although certain figures may sound alarming, for example, as reported by L’Obs, in 2022, 46,000 people illegally entered France via the English Channel, which is a 600% increase compared to 2019.

“Listen, we [i.e. France] are not as attractive to immigrants as we think,” Héran explains. He insists that when discussing integration, it's essential to remember that it's the result of mutual efforts, not just from immigrants themselves but also from French society.

What does unemployment have to do with it?

The public reaction of French authorities to the killing of the teenager by the police differs from previous major upheavals. In 2005, then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy referred to the protesters as a “gang of scoundrels” that needed to be “dealt with,” and he even suggested “cleaning up” the suburbs with “Kärcher pressure washers.” Eighteen years later, his successor Gérald Darmanin deemed the video of the shooting “extremely shocking” and “inconsistent” with the expectations of law enforcement. French President Emmanuel Macron characterized the teenager's death as “inexplicable” and “unforgivable.”

In August 2023, former French President Sarkozy, in honor of the release of his book, gave a comprehensive interview to Le Figaro. Apart from shocking statements regarding Ukraine's EU and NATO membership and the need for referendums in Russia-occupied territories, he also commented on the protests in France. He called the actions of the government a “loss of authority” and stated that back in 2010, he had “condemned the link between crime and immigration.” Nevertheless, according to Sarkozy, French “democracy is on the path to becoming a regime of helplessness.”

The events of the end of June and the beginning of July 2023 sparked discussions about French youth and their uncertain future. Out of the 3,600 detained protesters, 1,149 were minors. However, French authorities prefer not to perceive the situation as a protest against systemic issues: unemployment, social stratification, and access to education. All these factors are intertwined. Prime Minister Gérald Darmanin assures that the problem does not lie with “individuals from immigrant backgrounds” but solely with the individual responsibility of the teenagers and their parents. He notes, “There were many Kevins and Matteos there.”

French authorities prefer not to perceive the situation as a protest against systemic issues: unemployment, social stratification, and access to education

How did the situation arise where teenagers and young adults wander the streets without purpose, often lacking both employment and education? Media reports frequently highlight the challenge of achieving “equality,” the core principle of the French Republic, in suburban and economically disadvantaged areas. “Yearning for equality” is how L'Humanité characterizes the protesters. As reported by the Financial Times, the percentage of immigrants living in poverty (28%) is significantly higher than that among native French citizens (11%), a contrast to Germany and the UK, where such a substantial disparity is not observed. Among recently arrived immigrants in France, the proportion of those living in poverty reaches 40%. Additionally, France surpasses the UK, Germany, and the US in terms of the number of unemployed immigrants, particularly among the youth population.

Looking at France's internal statistics, it becomes clear how unemployment levels are linked to access to education. Compared to the 10.5% unemployment rate in 2014, the percentage of unemployed people has now decreased to 7.2%, but the figure still remains high, including the share of young people in it. According to INSEE data for 2022, 40.2% of the total number of unemployed people in France have not obtained any vocational certificates or higher education. Young people under 24 years old constitute 17.3% of the unemployed population. In the second half of 2022, 11.6% of young people aged 15 to 29 were neither studying nor working at the time of the study. While there is no dispute that young people face employment problems, the reasons behind this are seen differently by various parties.

Family Support and Education System Crisis

In his first major interview after the riots, Macron mentioned that one of the priorities on the agenda for the fall would be education. The changes will include increasing “support hours” for students, reducing class sizes, and admitting children to primary school at the age of two in “more sensitive and challenging areas” (which is how the French president referred to the suburbs that have raised dire concerns). Special attention will be given to career guidance for schoolchildren. Among the innovations, there is a clear intention from the government to keep children in school for as long as possible, rather than wandering the streets aimlessly. Later in an interview with Le Point, Macron explained his logic: “The overwhelming majority of those surveyed [protesters] are from broken families or from the child welfare system... This suggests that working with families is extremely important. Furthermore, the role of schools, parental controls <over gadgets used by young people>, integration into the economy, and employment are crucial.”

Political scientist Tom Chevalier, in his work “Youth and Family Support in France and Germany,” discusses how both countries are part of the same “continental regime,” and the “justifications for state action in the interest of youth will be quite similar” and will be focused on family support. Chevalier writes that in both countries, parents are required to support their adult children until they finish their education - until the age of 25 in France and 27 in Germany. According to Chevalier's assessment, the difference lies in the fact that family support in Germany “is accompanied by relatively early and easy economic independence for the vast majority of young people,” while France is characterized by the “weakness of vocational education in combination with serious difficulties in entering the job market.”

Family support in France is characterized by the “weakness of vocational education in combination with serious difficulties in entering the job market

French sociologists point out that disadvantaged suburbs are in a constant state of flux. For teenagers, this is accompanied by a “sense of destabilization and loss” and can be perceived by young people as injustice, provoking “anger and uprisings.” “The experience of inequality in a changing neighborhood can also stimulate a desire for a different way of life, while intensifying feelings of threat and stigmatization.”

Without a deep analysis of the root causes, the French unrest could follow a similar pattern to, for example, the 2011 protests in the UK. The trigger was similar: the police shooting of a 29-year-old young man, leading to six days of riots, looting, and shop burglaries across the UK. Five people died, and thousands were arrested.

Guardian columnist Jack Shenker wrote on the tenth anniversary of those events: “Once the clips of burning buses and boarded-up high streets faded away, so too did a wider conversation about what lay behind the extensive disorder, and what it might reveal about the iniquities, exclusions and violence of “order” itself.” At the time, British authorities reduced everything to “simple and clear” crime and hooliganism. According to Shenker, it was convenient for the British press and politicians to keep the events “within the safe and recognizable template: one in which a bad, mad, felonious underclass engages in a limited bout of feverish troublemaking before law is restored and life mercifully returns to normal.” Meanwhile, ten years later, funding for youth services in London alone had been halved, resulting in the closure of 130 centers out of 300.

Social tension among young people, difficulties in finding and securing employment, all contribute to street protests. The crisis in the education sector exacerbates this problem, with the COVID-19 pandemic only worsening staff shortages and pre-existing issues.

Social tension among young people, difficulties in finding and securing employment, all contribute to street protests

France continues to face a chronic shortage of schoolteachers. According to the Ministry of Education, out of 23,800 teaching positions opened in the public sector in 2023, 3,163 remain unfilled. While this is slightly better than the previous year, the number is still quite high.

The number of criminal cases involving minors decreased by nearly 10% over a four-year period from 2019 to 2021. However, the statistics for the past two years may paint a different picture. At the same time, the number of crimes committed against minors, according to the French Ministry of the Interior, has sharply increased across the country.

In the United Kingdom, as far back as 2018, more than 110,000 higher education staff began strikes, which continue to this day. These strikes are linked to extensive cuts, reduced pay, and many other issues. The situation is no better in primary and preschool education. According to the UK regulator Ofsted, the recovery of the system after the pandemic is “hampered by a workforce crisis in childcare and early education.” However, from 2012 to 2022, the rate of youth crime in the UK decreased by more than half, which is significantly better than in France.

Abuse of office

Excessive use of force is a concerning aspect of the issue for the French, as well as the structure of the police and some of its units. For instance, the specialized unit RAID and the motorized brigades for preventing violent actions (BRAV-M), formed in 2019 during the Yellow Vest protests, wield overly potent weaponry. Each BRAV-M brigade consists of two police officers on motorcycles. Members of BRAV-M have already been subjects of several judicial investigations related to acts of violence against demonstrators, both from the Yellow Vest movement and activists protesting pension reforms. In France, many are against this unit, citing previous unsuccessful experiences.

After the protests of 1968, a special motorized infantry unit called PVM was established. However, this unit was disbanded in 1986 after its members killed a protesting student of Algerian descent, Malik Oussekine. The distinction between PVM and BRAV-M was that PVM would attack protesters while on the move, without dismounting from their motorcycles, whereas BRAV-M used their vehicles solely for transportation. However, in March of this year, BRAV-M officers ran over a 19-year-old student while on the move. This suggests that BRAV-M is essentially the same unit under a new name. Furthermore, the Libération newspaper revealed that the police officer who shot Nahel had previously served in BRAV-M and in the CSI 93 unit, whose members are also implicated in several cases involving abuses of power.

Following a week of protests in response to Nahel's death, on July 8, officers from BRAV-M were responsible for severely injuring 29-year-old Youssouf Traoré. He had joined an unauthorized march in memory of his brother, Adam Traoré, who died in police custody in the Val-d'Oise department in 2016. His stepsister, the well-known activist and human rights advocate Assa Traoré, also attended the memorial event. As a result, the police arrested Youssouf on the grounds that he had allegedly struck a police officer. According to a medical examination reported by AFP and his lawyer, Youssouf sustained a cranial-cerebral injury with an eye contusion, a broken nose, and bruises to the chest, abdomen, and lower back following his arrest.

The French prosecutor's office initiated two cases regarding the “attack with aggravating circumstances resulting in complete incapacity for work for less than eight days.” Additionally, at least three journalists who witnessed the violence perpetrated by the police have filed complaints with the prosecutor's office. Eight police officers have countered by lodging complaints against Youssouf's brother and sister for “insults,” “violence,” and “threats” directed toward them.

On June 30, 2023, a 25-year-old named Aimène was shot in the head with a beanbag round in Mon-Saint-Martin and fell into a coma. Such rounds are used by the elite police special unit RAID. Aimène's family's lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, had complained about the court's actual “refusal” to provide a copy of the court hearing protocol. However, just a day after reports appeared in the press, the document was finally handed over to the victim's side. That same night in Marseille, a 21-year-old named Abelkarim lost his left eye due to a police bullet wound.

The following night, Mohamed, the 27-year-old cousin of Abelkarim, was fatally wounded by a police projectile, either a Flash-Ball or a shot from a defense ball launcher (LBD). The city prosecutor remained silent about the incident for three days.

According to a law passed in 2017, during the presidency of François Hollande, the police were given more authority to open fire on a vehicle in situations of citizen disobedience and to use their weapons more frequently in general. It seems that these already expanded measures are not going to be revoked, and instead, new alarming laws may soon be enacted. On July 3, the National Assembly, following the Senate's lead, approved a bill allowing “the remote activation of any connected device,” including phones, tablets, TVs, or voice assistants, “for the purpose of determining its geolocation and activating the microphone or camera.” This essentially pertains to surveillance of activists, granting law enforcement access to geolocation, cameras, and microphones following a court order, but “without the knowledge or consent of the owner” of the device. Climate activists and environmental movement participants believe that this is the exact goal pursued by the authorities.

Justice on the side of the police

The French anonymous team Desarmons (“Disarm Them [the police]”) keeps track of victims of police violence in France, killed or injured by French law enforcement. According to their data, during Macron's first presidential term, police violence significantly increased and by the end of his term, it had doubled or tripled compared to the 2010s.

The lawyer for Nahel's family, Yassine Bouzrou, sees the problem not in the police but in the approach of the French justice system, which does not provide the police with “any reason to change their behavior.” Bouzrou states that “justice has never been so radical in justifying the actions of the police.” He adds that in some cases, judges try to prove that medical assistance arrived too late and that doctors made mistakes, shifting the issue into the medical domain. The lawyer believes that the likelihood of legislative changes to combat police abuse is extremely low.

Out of the 3,600 people detained during the week, approximately 990 were brought to court, and 480 of them went through expedited legal proceedings. Out of the total number of detainees, 380 people were placed in custody. The President of the Regional Council of Île-de-France, Valérie Pécresse, called for “political justice” and stated that rioters should receive at least one year in prison. However, many believe that the sentences for rioters are too harsh and rushed. For example, 10 months in prison for stealing a can of Red Bull, eighteen months in prison for setting a dumpster on fire, or one year in prison for “incitement to disorder.”

The lawyer Eolas pointed out that two detainees, after being held for one and a half months, were found innocent by a court decision on August 11. As reported by Le Parisien, on that day, several cases related to the riots were considered in a Paris court, the hearing lasted a total of 16 hours and ended at 5:42 in the morning.

Chicken Flu

In France, not only activists but also officials and law enforcement officers are fond of protesting. After four police officers who shot a young man with non-lethal weapons and then brutally beat him were taken into custody in Marseille, their colleagues deemed the arrest unjust and went on strike. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Hedi ended up with a broken jaw, lost vision in one eye, and part of his skull due to the incident.

22-year-old Hedi
22-year-old Hedi

More than a thousand police officers, whom the French call “chickens” (poule), suddenly went on sick leave or switched to code “562,” which means stopping all current work and exclusively performing emergency duties, following the call of the Unité-SGP union. The unexpected “chicken flu” epidemic spread to other regions of France, prompting the Prime Minister and the President to react.

On July 23, in an interview with Le Parisien, the Director-General of the French National Police, Frédéric Veaux, expressed full support for the Marseille police officer, admitting that thoughts of him being in prison “keep him awake at night.” Veaux was confident that “a police officer should not be in prison before trial, even if he may have made mistakes or serious errors in the course of his work.” His words were echoed by the Prefect of the Paris Police, Laurent Nuñez. Macron considered Veaux's statements “contradictory.”

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