Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

International Francophone Games kick off in Abidjan

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Iran open to dialogue with Saudis, says top diplomat

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Spicer bows out of White House

Read more

FOCUS

Iraq's Mosul: Rebuilding a city fractured by sectarian mistrust

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Bistrot or bust? Why France's famed cafés are disappearing

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Kenya court rules Dubai firm can print presidential ballots

Read more

ENCORE!

Omar El Akkad's 'American War': A tale of US dystopia

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Exxon sues US over $2m fine for violating Russia sanctions

Read more

France

Hundreds defy protest ban in Corsica after anti-Arab violence

© Yannick Graziani, AFP | Demonstrators defy the ban, which was put into place after two days of anti-Arab protests, in Ajaccio on December 27, 2015.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2015-12-28

Hundreds of people marched in Corsica on Sunday after two days of violent anti-Arab riots, sidestepping a ban on demonstrations in a flashpoint neighbourhood by taking their protests elsewhere in the capital.

Two people were detained over days of rioting on the French Mediterranean island, which saw demonstrators vandalise a Muslim prayer hall and set fire to books including copies of the Koran.

Hundreds marched through poor areas of the capital Ajaccio on Saturday for a second straight day, shouting slogans such as “This is our home!” and “Arabs get out”.

Corsica’s administrator Christophe Mirmand announced a ban on all protests and gatherings until at least January 4 in the poor Jardins de l’Empereur housing estate, the epicentre of the violence.

But hundreds took to the streets again on Sunday, dodging the ban by marching through other neighbourhoods in the capital Ajaccio chanting: “We fight against scum, not against Arabs!”

“We aren’t thugs, we aren’t racists,” they cried as they marched to the police station and then through several low-income areas, before returning to the Jardins de l’Empereur estate where they were blocked by police.

The unrest followed a Christmas Eve clash in which two firefighters and a police officer were injured at the estate, home to some 1,700 people, half of them of non-French origin.

Regional official Francois Lalanne said a fire had been deliberately lit in the neighbourhood in a ruse aimed at “ambushing” the emergency services.

A firefighter told French television that about 20 people armed with iron bars and baseball bats had tried to attack them, but were unable to smash through the windows of their truck.

Two men in their 20s were held in custody as part of a probe into the unrest.

“Their involvement in the attack against the firefighters is still under investigation,” said prosecutor Eric Bouillard, adding the men had had brushes with authorities in the past.

‘Unacceptable desecration’

The next day, 600 people gathered outside police headquarters in Ajaccio in a show of support for the police and firefighters. But some 300 broke away to head for the housing estate.

Shouting xenophobic slogans, the group smashed a Muslim prayer room, partially burning books including copies of the Koran, Lalanne said.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls wrote on Twitter that the break-in was “an unacceptable desecration”, while also condemning the “intolerable attack” on the firefighters.

“This behaviour must stop. It hurts Corsica’s image,” Mirmand said.

On Sunday morning there were few people out on the streets of the Jardins de l’Empereur estate, where residents were still reeling after the clashes.

“A fundamentally peaceful demonstration turned into racist violence,” said one resident.

The unrest came as France remains jittery following the November 13 jihadist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

During regional elections in mid-December, Corsica’s nationalist party won power for the first time.

The population of France’s lush Mediterranean “Isle de Beaute” (Island of Beauty) increases by ten-fold during the peak tourist season.

(AFP)

Date created : 2015-12-27

  • FRANCE

    Demos banned in Corsica after two days of anti-Arab protests

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Fresh protests in Corsica after Muslim prayer hall vandalised

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Muslim prayer hall in Corsica vandalised after attacks on firemen

    Read more

COMMENT(S)