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France

Youth claims riot police acted with deliberate racist violence

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-25

A French student of Moroccan descent has claimed police reacting to celebrations in Paris following Algeria's qualification in the World Cup were deliberately and overtly racist.

Police reacted with deliberate and overtly racist violence during celebrations in Paris after Algeria's footballing victory over Egypt last Wednesday, a French student of Moroccan descent has alleged.

In an account written on his Facebook page immediately after the events, and re-printed as the lead story in French daily Libération on Tuesday, 21-year-old Anyss Arbib claims he was assaulted for no reason, sprayed with mace and called a "dirty Arab".

Arbib, a fourth-year student at Paris's elite Sciences-Po (Political Sciences) university, went into central Paris from his home in the northern suburbs of Bondy to celebrate Algeria's victory with friends. When youths on the Champs Elysées started throwing bottles at riot police, Arbib and his group decided to leave.

'Atmosphere of terror'

"We stopped near the périphérique ring-road to wait for friends who, like us, did not want to get caught up in the violence on the Champs Elysées," Arbib writes on his Facebook page. "CRS riot police turned up, hitting anyone who was not in their cars with their truncheons.

"The logic in their actions was blatantly to create an atmosphere of terror and fear. The more of them that arrived at the scene, the more violent they became. I saw fathers beaten down in front of their children, youths beaten until they bled because they wanted to celebrate a football victory. I saw scenes that made me doubt the values of the Republic that we (French citizens) hold dear."

Arbib then claims one CRS officer shouted at him: "What are you looking at? Get the hell out of here."

He writes that when he asked why he was being spoken to impolitely, one of the officers sprayed him full in the face with mace gel.

"It was an assault by thugs - no, sorry, the CRS - who were acting with impunity," he continues. "I fell out of the car, I couldn't breathe."

When he recovered, he says another officer told him: "F*** off you dirty Arab. Today is a big party for you lot, and it's a big party for us too. We can beat you up just as much as we like."

'Troubled' suburbs

Residents of the suburban projects around Paris and other big French cities regularly allege police racism and brutality.

Arbib himself comes from these "troubled" suburbs, which have been the scenes of social unrest and deprivation for decades.

He is luckier than most, having benefited from living in a Priority Education Zone, which helps students get into elite universities such as Sciences-Po.

A promising student, he has met former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and is pictured with Sciences-Po director Richard Descoings in an article about opening up this elite establishment to young people in the suburban projects.

The police authorities Tuesday said "no official complaints had been made" and that they were "ready to hear any allegations or complaints regarding this matter."
 

Date created : 2009-11-24

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