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On Tuesday, June 27, a 17-year-old named Nahel Merzouk was fatally shot and killed during a traffic stop in the town of Nanterre, located west of Paris, France.
As the only child of his mother, Nahel was on his way to work as a takeaway delivery driver when the incident occurred. He was shot in the chest after driving off during the traffic stop, despite not having a driver’s license.
“What am I going to do now?” his mother asked. “I’ve only had one. He was my life, my best friend.”
Nahel’s mother believes that the officer who shot him “saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life.” She solely blames the officer for her son’s death, not the police force as a whole.
“Police violence happens every day, especially if you’re Arab or Black,” said a young man in another French city, demanding justice for Nahel.
France under seige from its own citizens after police killing
The family’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, stated that this case is about justice, not racism. “We have laws and a judicial system that protect police officers and create a culture of impunity in France,” he told the BBC.
Although Nahel had previous encounters with the law, such as driving without a license and insurance, and using false number plates, he was never convicted. He had no criminal record and nothing on his police file.
The officer involved in the shooting has since been detained, but the arrest hasn’t satisfied the people of Paris. Protests have broken out, starting peacefully but turning violent over time. Protestors have set fire to cars and buildings, and clashes with the police have been reported.
In response, the government has deployed thousands of police officers to the affected areas. President Emmanuel Macron has also held a meeting with ministers to address the situation.
These riots have divided France, with some people believing that the police are too quick to resort to violence, particularly against minorities. Others view the riots as a sign of societal breakdown in France and emphasize the need for the government to address the underlying roots of inequality.
The fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk has ignited violent protests and exposed deep divisions in France. The incident highlights concerns over police violence, racism, and societal inequality. Restoring trust and addressing underlying issues are crucial for healing a fractured society and fostering a more inclusive future.