Protests against the murder of Nahel Merzouk by the French police. Source: USA TODAY
The struggle of the French masses is still going strong after four days of protests and riots. We have previously reported on the ongoing struggles following the murder of Nahel Merzouk by the French police.
Nahel was a 17-year-old boy of Algerian decent from the working-class suburb of Nanterre. The police and media have tried to portray him as a dangerous criminal and were claiming that he was killed in self defense. However, a video of the shooting shows that the teenager was trying to escape, when the police shoot him at point-blank. The lies of the police and media were shown. The cold-blooded murder by the french police of yet another young person from the working-class suburbs were revealed in front of the french masses and the world.
This recent murder has triggered a new wave of popular revolt across France. The masses, especially the youth from the working-class areas, does not accept the constant repression and criminalization by the French State, and have again let their class-hatred set fire to the streets. The rebellion is mainly being directed against the French State and their repressive forces. Police cars, police stations, town halls and other public buildings have been attacked and set on fire. Yeni Demokrasi reports that the average age of the 1.000 people who have been detained is 17 years.
The State has assigned 45.000 police officers to attempt to stop the riots, Also their special unit RAID, used to fight terrorism and organized crime, were put in against the people, but they have still failed to contain the rebellion of the working class youth.
Just on the fourth night of the riots 79 police officers and gendarmes were injured and 2.500 fires were reported. French media reports that four police were shot and injured with rifles. According to reports a gun shop was looted and five to eight hunting rifles were taken. There has also been demonstrations in Marseille, Lyon, Grenoble and Paris.
The murder of Nahel Merzouk has only been the triggering incident of the ongoing struggles that follow the development that we have previously seen in France. In an exclusive interview with The Red Herald, at the time of the struggles against the pension reforms, the Maoist Communist Party of France (PCmF) explains that the riots in France are an expression of the revolutionary situation in uneven development in the whole world:
“We see in France a revolutionary situation in uneven development, which expresses itself in the situation in Europe.”
Like in the rest of the world the french masses are paying the price of the general crisis of imperialism. Their justified struggle is only intensified by the State repression. The French State has showed itself incapable of containing the anger of the masses. They handle their internal affairs through colonial means with hard repression against the masses. The poorest of the french working class, many of who are from the former French colonies, face daily repression from the State. They face the notorious class hatred and racism of the French police, who harasses, criminalizes and murders them, especially the youth of the poorest working-class neighborhoods.
The current struggle has for many brought to mind the heroic uprising of the youth of the French banlieues in 2005. We have previously written on this uprising and the role of then Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy.
The uprising in 2005 was triggered by the death of two youths from the banlieues. A group of youth were chased by the police, after a break-in had been reported in the area. The youth knew how they would be treated by the French police, even if they were not involved in the break-in. 15-year old Bouna Traoré and, 17-year-old Zyed Benna tried to hide in a nearby electrical substation, and died from electrocution.
The following uprising lasted for three weeks. The youth aiming their rebellion mainly against the State and the police, set fire to around 10.000 vehicles and destroyed or damaged more than 200 public buildings. At least 120 police officers and gendarmes were injured. There were riots in at least 274 towns. The uprising is estimated to have lead to 200 million euros in damages.
The French State attempted to crush the uprising with hard police repression. Around 5.200 people were arrested, leading to 400 prison sentences. The amount of people injured by the police is unknown.
Interior Minister Sarkozy further fueled the anger of the masses when he used the word “racaille” to describe the rebelling youth. The word can be translated to “scum”, and is a highly offensive slur, usually with racial implications. He consistently rejected the justified struggle of the masses and attempted to split the masses by criminalizing the poorest parts of them, especially those from the oppressed countries. In a speech to police officers he stated the the following: “I reject any form of other-worldly naivety that wants to see a victim of society in anyone who breaks the law, a social problem in any riot … What happened in Villiers-le-Bel has nothing to do with a social crisis. It has everything to do with a ‘thugocracy’”.
The current situation is an expression of the same class-hatred, as the uprising in 2005. The same rejection by the French masses of their increasing exploitation and the ever-present repression. The recurring great strikes, riots and uprisings in France is an expression of the revolutionary situation in uneven development also in the imperialist countries. The heroic struggle of the French masses serves as a reminder that we are not living in times of peace.