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France

International media react to police forcibly evicting immigrants

©

Text by Eric Olander

Latest update : 2010-08-04

It took almost a week before the international media took notice of last month's controversial video of French riot police forcibly evicting immigrants from a housing settlement outside of Paris. Reactions since have been strong and varied.

The story of French riot police forcibly evicting a group of immigrants from an illegal encampment first broke on Wednesday, July 21, and while it received significant exposure in the French media, it took time to pick up traction with the international media. 

It was almost a week later before the popular viral video began to make its way across the Web and on to the agenda of the world’s leading English-language news outlets.  

In general, the mainstream media coverage in the United States and the United Kingdom were all largely critical of the French police’s handling of the demonstrators.  Describing the situation with words like “outrage” and “brutal,” the coverage largely sympathised with the protestors.
 
Sarkozy under fire after video shows brutal treatment of immigrantsdeclares the headline of the UK's Independent.
 
 
Police filmed dragging women and babies during protest,” CNN reported, echoing the same theme as Skynews.
 
The news reports were considerably less provocative than the headlines though some media ran editorials that were significantly more opinionated. Guardian (UK) columnist Nabila Ramdani wrote a stinging indictment of Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing the French president of racial intolerance that led to the violence depicted in the video, “Even by the standards of French "community" policing, it is a desperately harrowing video,” she wrote.
 
“Displaying the kind of respect and sensitivity normally reserved for prone drunks, the officers poke, manhandle and then drag the protestors along the road, along with their crying young children and babies.” – Guardian UK columnist Nabila Ramdani, August 2
 
In contrast to the English-language news media’s “official” coverage that has been largely
critical of Sarkozy and sympathetic to the demonstrators, a lot of the reader comments on those stories portray an entirely different perspective. User Tanner Baldus' comments on the popular U.S. news site “The Huffington Post” highlighted the ambivalence shared by other readers over claims that police used excessive force:
 
“This is far from police brutality. the police were carefully pulling the protestors apart that were putting up a struggle. As for the baby being dragged, as soon as the cops saw it was happening a cop swooped in and picked it up. If there was the complete disregard that comes with police brutality a cop wouldn't of even stopped to help. It was a bad situation and some crappy things like that are bound to happen.”
 
Whereas many of Sarkozy’s predecessors have not enjoyed much support among conservatives in the US, the president’s tougher policies targeting immigrants and itinerant populations are resonating among a growing number of prominent right-wing bloggers. 
 

More videos and comments on this issue are available on YouTube and on the micro blogging service Twitter. 

Date created : 2010-08-04

  • FRANCE

    Video of forced eviction in Paris suburb prompts shock

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