Macron Scraps German Trip as France Braces for More Violence

France is bracing for a fifth night of violence after the funeral of the teenager whose killing by police has triggered riots and looting across the country, and prompted President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a state visit to Germany.

(Bloomberg) — France is bracing for a fifth night of violence after the funeral of the teenager whose killing by police has triggered riots and looting across the country, and prompted President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a state visit to Germany.

A private ceremony was held Saturday at mosque in a suburb near Paris for the 17-year-old boy of North African descent, Agence France-Presse reported. His shooting on Tuesday unleashed protests against perceived racism by police that spread into broader street clashes and looting across the country.  

Macron postponed his long-anticipated trip to Germany, where he was due to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as the crisis further erodes his international agenda. He also left a summit of European leaders early on Friday to return to France before the outbreak of another night of violence that saw police arrest more than 1.300 people.

The Interior Ministry is sending police reinforcements to Lyon and Marseille after confrontations Friday night between police and mostly young people resulted in ransacked shops and damaged buildings despite the deployment of 45,000 officers across the nation. 

While the unrest overnight was described by the ministry as “less intense,” more than 2,500 fires burned and hundreds of buildings were damaged.  

Public buildings like town halls, libraries and police stations were attacked, and stores were looted in cities like Marseille, Lyon and Grenoble, and in areas within and around Paris. 

Macron put off the highly anticipated three-day German visit, which was part of an effort by the euro region’s two biggest countries to reduce tensions in recent months over issues ranging from energy to defense. The leaders were also set to discuss Ukraine’s EU membership bid, and how to provide Kyiv with security guarantees. 

In a bid to stem the domestic conflict, Macron had earlier called on parents and social media platforms to help. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin met with representatives of Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Meta on Friday, saying in a statement that they should pull “illegal” messages calling for violence and insurrection. 

The funeral of Nahel, 17, took place in Nanterre, where he was fatally shot at close range in a car. Video posted on social media showed two police officers leaning into the vehicle, with one of them shooting as the driver pulls away. Authorities haven’t released Nahel’s last name.

Read more: These Are the French Cities Hit by Clashes Over Teen’s Killing

There were attacks overnight on 266 buildings, just over half the previous evening, as well as dozens of police stations, the Interior Ministry said. Some 1,350 vehicles were burned, also fewer than the night before. 

The officer who fired the shot on Nahel has been charged with murder and is being held in pre-trial detention. Pascal Prache, the Nanterre prosecutor, said Thursday the legal conditions for the use of a weapon were “not met.”

Read more: Macron Asks Parents, Social Media Firms to Help End Clashes 

Laurent-Franck Lienard, a lawyer for the officer, told Europe 1 radio that the policeman believed he “needed” to shoot.

Nahel’s mother, identified only as Mounia, said in an interview with France 5 that she didn’t blame the police force. “I blame one person, the one who took my son’s life,” she said. “He saw an Arab face, a little kid. He wanted to take his life.”

The looting of stores overnight was widespread in cities like Grenoble where the center was littered with broken glass, empty shoe boxes and broken mannequins, Agence France-Presse reported. Shops were also ransacked in Marseille, it said. 

Tobacco stores were targeted in particular because their merchandise can be resold, Philippe Coy, head of the sector’s French lobby, told BFM TV, describing considerable damage.

The unrest harks back to 2005 when weeks of riots followed the death of two boys in an electricity substation following a police chase. It’s also thrown a spotlight on French policing practices, as well as long-simmering tensions in the country’s poorer suburbs. 

In 2005 the French government declared a state of emergency that lasted close to two months in its effort to quell the violence. Macron has so far avoided taking that step, instead authorities on Friday ordered the cancellation of some events and gatherings, while bus and tram services were suspended from 9 p.m. 

Soccer star Kylian Mbappe and some of his teammates from the Paris Saint-Germain football club appealed for calm and condemned the violence. They said in a letter posted on Twitter that while many of them were from poorer neighborhoods and understood the anger, the reaction was destroying the perpetrators’ own towns and hurting their families.  

“The time for violence has to stop and make way for grief, dialogue and reconstruction,” they wrote. 

–With assistance from Samy Adghirni and Ania Nussbaum.

(Updates with details on reinforcements from fourth paragraph.)

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