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Justice for Nahel: The intifada of the popular neighborhoods in France

We document here the joint statement of the comrades of Collectif Palestine Vaincra, Samidoun Paris Banlieue and Masar Badil on the current protests in France. The colonial continuity of racist violence mentioned in this text cannot be emphasised enough: France in particular was long one of the world’s largest colonial powers, it waged several of the cruellest wars to suppress the national liberation movements of the 20th century and still today, especially in Africa, pursues a policy of neo-colonialism that is without equal. At present, the latter seems to be finally being shaken off by the peoples of West Africa. What remains is the colonial arrogance and deep-rooted racism against Africans, Arabs and Muslims that not only shape official French policy but also divide French society along ethnic and religious lines.

Justice for Nahel: The intifada of the popular neighborhoods in France

1 July 2023

“Qui sème la Hagra récolte l’Intifada !” (Those who sow injustice reap the uprising!)

On Tuesday, 27 June in Nanterre, France, a police officer murdered a 17-year-old teenager with a shot to the chest, encouraged by his colleague, who was shouting “Shoot him!” This scene, captured on video by witnesses, has aroused a surge of anger and solidarity following the latest racist crime committed by French police. Nahel, the victim’s first name, has become a new symbol of France’s structural inequalities and state violence.

In an attempt to contain the surging wave of legitimate indignation, the political and media machine was set in motion to smear the memory of the young man by reversing the obvious responsibility for the crime: he was portrayed as having a “criminal record,” while the police officer was said to practice “self-defense.” This lie has been widely disproven; however, even this smear campaign does nothing to justify the state murder of a teenager.

For several days, uprisings and revolts have taken place in multiple cities across France, affirming the rejection of police crimes and racism, and echoing the slogan, “No justice, no peace.” The sole response from the government has been repression: the mobilization of  tens of thousands of police officers, nearly 1,000 arrests, curfews and restrictions on freedom of movement in various neighborhoods.

This latest racist police crime is far from an isolated case. Since 1977, nearly 900 people have died as a result of the action of the police, the overwhelming majority of whom are Black and Arab men from working-class and immigrant neighborhoods. This state violence is particularly rooted in  the history of French colonialism. The tactics developed in the French counter-insurgency against the war of liberation in Algeria and the colonial repression of May 1967 in Gwadloup were also used and reinvested in France, in particular in the neocolonial control of the Arab and black populations in the popular immigrant neighborhoods immigration segregated from the large cities.

The Collectif Palestine VaincraSamidoun Paris Banlieue and Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, send their condolences to Nahel’s mother, Mounia M., to her friends and to the inhabitants of her neighborhood. As Palestinian movements and anti-colonialist and anti-racist organizations committed to supporting the Palestinian resistance, we know that state racism and police repression are the arm of French imperialism, which is a strategic ally of the Zionist regime oppressing the Palestinian people. More than ever, the mobilizations, from France to Palestine, represent our united struggle for justice, liberation and dignity!

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