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France Protests – Macron cancels trip over French riots as family buries teenager

Photo by CNN

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PARIS, July 1 (Reuters) – More than 1,300 people were arrested in France during a fourth night of rioting and President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a trip to Germany on Saturday as the funeral took place of teenager Nahel M, whose shooting by police sparked nationwide unrest.

Macron’s government deployed 45,000 police officers as well as armoured vehicles overnight to tackle the worst crisis to face his leadership since the “Yellow Vest” protests which brought much of France to a standstill in late 2018.

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The French president postponed a state visit to Germany that was due to begin on Sunday.

The interior ministry said on Twitter that 1,311 people had been arrested overnight, compared with 875 the previous night, although described the violence as “lower in intensity”.

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Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said more than 700 shops supermarkets, restaurants and bank branches had been “ransacked, looted and sometimes even burnt to the ground since Tuesday”.

Local authorities all over the country announced bans on demonstrations and ordered public transport to stop running in the evening.

Nahel, a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

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Several hundred people lined up to enter Nanterre’s grand mosque, which was guarded by volunteers in yellow vests, while a few dozen bystanders watched the funeral from across the street.

Some of the mourners, their arms crossed, said “God is Greatest” in Arabic, as they spanned the boulevard in prayer.

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Salsabil, a young woman of Arab descent, told Reuters that she had come to express support for Nahel’s family.

“I think it’s important we all stand together,” she said.

Marie, 60, said she had lived in Nanterre for 50 years and there had always been problems with the police.

“This absolutely needs to stop. The government is completely disconnected from our reality,” she said.

The shooting of the teenager, caught on video, has reignited longstanding complaints by poor and racially mixed urban communities of police violence and racism. Macron had denied there is systemic racism in French law enforcement agencies.

“If you have the wrong skin colour, the police are much more dangerous to you,” said a young man, who declined to be named, adding that he was a friend of Nahel’s.

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