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Fallout from riots in France

Fallout from riots in France
Fallout from riots in France | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody, and a happy Fourth to you. Just a couple of days in Nantucket. Very enjoyable. And wanted to talk a little bit about a place that is a little less enjoyable right now, which is France.

You've seen massive riots across the country over almost a week, the worst in nearly 20 years in France, which is really saying something for that country. Social protest is basically taken as sport and riots are frequent. But even in that context, this has been notable and exceptional. What what sparked it off has nothing to do with extending pensions from 62 to 64. Those were major demonstrations across the country, but basically just shut down the economy for a period of time. Not so much violent protests. No, these violent riots and lootings and the like were set off by the French police gunning down a 17 year old French boy about Algerian descent. He was trying to get away from the police. They were trying to stop him. The police immediately said that he was killed in self-defense, that he was trying to run the police over. That turned out very quickly to be a lie because there was video capturing the French gunning at him as he was trying to get away and that it's kind of a George Floyd type situation in France. The response is deeply political. In other words, what you believe about who is responsible depends very little on the facts of the case and overwhelmingly on where you happen to stand politically. On the one hand, you've got Muslims that are seen by the right in France as taking over French identity, as not really being French. Big structural problems in France, in the suburbs outside of the wealthier French cities where most of the Muslim population lives. A lot of drug trafficking there, a lot of violent crime, a lot of poverty. If you ask the average French citizen what percentage of the population is Muslim, on average, they respond by saying a third, which is insane. It's actually some 10%. But that sensibility gives you a sense of how this is played on the right politically in France.

On the left, you're blaming the police, which treats Muslims considerably worse than than non-Muslims in France. One recent study in France showed that Muslims were 20 times more likely to be asked to shown their papers by police than others in routine traffic stops. 17 drivers, almost all Muslims, have been shot dead by the French police in the last year and a half. Now, if you're an American, you you see that and you say, hey, only 17, that's not actually that bad. That sounds like a bad weekend in Chicago, right on the south side. But but this is like in the United States, an issue that has not been dealt with, an issue that is being swept under the rug. Macron needs the police on his side so he doesn't push them very hard. But he has come out and immediately said this was unacceptable behavior and has detained the French police officer. And the hard right is pushing down on Macron really, really strongly as a consequence. Meanwhile, these are not peaceful protests. I want to be very clear. This is widespread looting. This is arson. It's violence, and well over 500 police injured as a consequence of all of it. So it is it is a pretty big deal. The far left in France is condemning the police. They have taken the side clearly of not just the protesters, but many actively even supporting the rioters and the looters, the far right defending the police and specifically the detained police officer and some even talking about these areas of of Muslims in France being called foreign enclaves, even though a majority of those living there are French citizens.

And the danger here is that while Macron is a creature of the center in politically and trying to balance both sides, the reality is that both the far left and the far right are going to get more popular across France on the back of this episode. And so, I mean, democracy and democratic institutions in France are getting weaker. The present trajectory for democracy in France is in trouble, frankly, just much as it is in the United States, much as it is in Brazil, where I just was last week. I am happy to say that after six days of of violence and rioting and looting, today life in France is a lot more calm. Politically, this looks bad for Macron on the international stage. King Charles had to cancel a visit. Macron had to cancel a state visit that was quite important to go to Germany over the weekend. He's got a respite for the time being, but you wouldn't say it's because he's managed it well. You'd say this is a structural problem that is only going to get worse in France going forward, and we'll be watching it very closely.

So that's the news for Monday, and I hope everyone has a happy Fourth tomorrow if you're in the United States, for those that celebrate, as they say, and for all the rest of us, let's keep on keep it on. Talk to you soon.


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