LONDON: A fundraiser has been organized to support a French police officer who was involved in the unfortunate incident where a 17-year-old boy lost his life in Paris last week. The fundraiser has received an overwhelming response, with donations exceeding €1 million ($1.089 million).
Since the officer, known as Florian M, shot teenager Nahel Merzouk during a traffic stop on June 27, approximately 52,000 individuals have donated money. This incident has sparked widespread rioting throughout the country.
The fundraiser for Merzouk’s family has raised €200,000 so far, but it’s worth noting that this amount came from a larger group of over 100,000 donors.
According to his grandmother Nadia, who spoke to journalists at broadcaster BFMTV, she expressed her deep sadness and heartbreak over the situation. She mentioned that he had taken the life of her grandson. This man should be held accountable, just like everyone else.
Florian M stated that he shot Merzouk to protect himself, a colleague, and the public. After reviewing the video footage, it appears that the officer was not in immediate danger during the incident. As a result, the 38-year-old involved has been taken into custody and charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The fundraiser for Florian M was set up by Jean Messiha, a French TV personality who is known for his right-wing populist views and his previous role as an adviser to Marine Le Pen, a candidate in the presidential election. Florian M’s police colleagues have set up a separate fund, which has raised approximately €60,000.
Government and opposition politicians have strongly criticized the campaign. Eric Bothorel, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, expressed strong disapproval of the campaign, describing it as inappropriate and shocking. Bothorel also warned that Messiha is taking unnecessary risks.
According to Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, the situation is only getting worse and causing more unrest, which is why we’re seeing thousands of people protesting in major cities all over the country.
According to Olivier Faure, who is the first secretary of the French Socialist Party, supporting the officer is causing a significant division in France.
According to criminal lawyer Carole-Olivia Monteno, the fundraiser is deemed “completely inappropriate” as it only adds to the existing hatred that already exists.
Mathilde Panot, a member of the La France Insoumise party, expressed her concern by stating that in France in 2023, there seems to be a financial incentive for taking the life of a young individual from North Africa.
The ongoing riots, which have been going on for nearly a week now, have involved intense clashes between protestors and the police. There have been incidents of looting and significant criminal damage, which is something France hasn’t witnessed on this scale in many years.
Approximately 3,000 individuals have been taken into custody, with around 700 law enforcement officers sustaining injuries. Additionally, there have been reports of approximately 5,000 vehicles being destroyed and around 1,500 buildings being targeted for either attacks or looting.
Merzouk’s grandmother expressed her concern about the ongoing violence, emphasizing that some rioters are taking advantage of her grandson’s death as a pretext to engage in looting and create chaos.
She told BFMTV, “I urge those who are causing damage to stop.” I’m sorry to hear that Nahel has passed away. My daughter only had one child. I’m sorry to hear that, but it seems like my daughter’s life is over and she feels lost.
Merzouk’s aunt expressed her strong opposition to violence, but she also expressed a hopeful desire that Nahel’s death will serve as a catalyst for change, ensuring that such tragic incidents never occur again.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin expressed his belief that “law and order are being restored due to the strong approach we have taken.” He mentioned that there are currently 40,000 police officers and other security personnel deployed throughout the country.
Macron is scheduled to have a meeting with 200 mayors from towns that were affected by the riots in Paris on Tuesday.
This week, the president decided to cancel a planned trip to Germany due to the recent violence. However, the president has not yet made the decision to declare a state of emergency.
The government disagreed with the UN’s claims that France and its police have a history of racism and mistreatment towards ethnic minority communities. The Foreign Ministry stated that they believe these allegations are completely baseless.