Aunt of shot teenager whose death sparked riots across France pleads for violence to stop

The aunt of a French teenager shot lifeless by police final week has urged the “violence to stop” and her nephew’s death to set off “actual change” peacefully, in a heartfelt interview with The Impartial.

Hatifa, who turned 47 on Saturday, the day of her nephew’s funeral, described Nahel Merzouk, 17, as a “loving teddy bear” who had huge ambitions, preferred to write rap lyrics, and was “devoted” to his mom.

She mentioned the household – who’re of Algerian and Moroccan origin – had been overwhelmed by the nationwide and international response to his killing final week by a police officer throughout a site visitors stop in a west Parisian suburb.

A girl pays her respects on the website the place Nahel died in Nanterre


1000’s of individuals have taken to the streets across the nation, calling for an finish to police impunity and discrimination after a video of the incident was shared on-line.

However it has additionally ignited violence with a number of cities ablaze as looters ransacked dozens of outlets and torched 1000’s of autos, in accordance to the inside ministry.

On Sunday morning a gaggle of rioters ram-raided the house of a Paris suburb mayor, set the automotive alight and launched fireworks at his spouse and younger youngsters.

“I ask that the violence stop. I don’t need individuals to get damage. The household could be very a lot in opposition to the violence,” Hatifa, a mother-of-four herself, advised The Impartial.

“We knew Nahel’s killing would have some influence however not this a lot. I feel there are mass protests as a result of so many moms, like my sister, have had sufficient of being scared on a regular basis.”

She mentioned the household have been “very grateful” for the worldwide assist, which had helped as they handled “deep grief”.

Demonstrators run as French cops use teargas to disperse riots

(AFP through Getty)

“However I hope that Nahel’s death goes to set off some sort of change meaning this by no means occurs once more,” she added. “On the finish of the day, a grown-up shot a child.”

Nahel was fired at by a police officer throughout a site visitors stop within the west Parisian suburb. The perpetrator of the capturing justified his motion by saying the teenager refused to comply and the police mentioned he was “recognized” to them.

However the incident was caught on cell phone footage and confirmed Nahel driving away from the officers earlier than one fired at him. His household consider he was doubtless terrified, and so panicked and drove off. France’s human rights ombudsman has opened an inquiry into the killing and the officer concerned has been charged with murder.

Outraged on the homicide, and the obvious efforts by the police to paint Nahel as a troubled teenager wished by the legislation, has seen 1000’s take to the streets across the nation. However that has spiralled into violence in lots of areas.

Greater than 3,000 individuals have been arrested across the nation

(AFP through Getty)

Emmanuel Macron, going through probably the most extreme problem but to his presidency, deployed 45,000 officers, together with elite anti-terrorism models, in a bid to finish the unrest. Police unions, in the meantime, have declared they’re “at warfare” with “savage hordes of vermin”.

Greater than 3,000 individuals have now been arrested across the nation, with curfews imposed and public transport curtailed as open avenue battles raged between protesters and police, and looting turned rampant.

Hatifa mentioned that the anger within the disenfranchised banlieues – or metropolis suburbs – had been simmering for some time as a result of of the endemic downside of discrimination within the police pressure.

The youths, together with Nahel, are recurrently stopped by police, an motion that scares them and heightens tensions, she added. “I don’t have all of the solutions to repair this. Racism and discrimination throughout the police has to stop. I do know policemen are reaching their wit’s finish and are taking their frustration out on younger individuals.

“However it has to stop, younger individuals don’t like police, the police needs to be defending us not killing us,” she added.

Hatifa’s phrases echo these of Nahel’s grandmother who additionally referred to as for calm in an interview with French TV channel BFMTV on Sunday. “Don’t break home windows, don’t smash up colleges, don’t smash up buses. Stop it, they’re mums on buses, they’re mums strolling outdoors”, the grandmother begged.

“Nahel is lifeless. My daughter had only one baby, she’s misplaced, it’s over, my daughter has no life left. They usually made me lose my daughter and my grandson.”

Emmanuel Macron chaired an emergency assembly on Sunday night to sort out the riots


Hatifa mentioned the entire household was involved in regards to the psychological well being of Nahel’s mom, Mounia, who has been thrust into the worldwide limelight.

“My sister is targeted totally on the loss of her son, her solely son. I’m scared that she would possibly make a mistake in her loneliness and solitude when this quietens down,” she added.

The officer who fired at Nahel has been taken into pre-trial custody, which French felony legislation professors advised The Impartial was unprecedented. However many, together with the household, worry that he should be launched.

Nahel is the sixteenth driver to be shot at a site visitors stop because the begin of 2022, specialists have advised The Impartial. The distinction this time is that it was caught on digital camera.

Hatifa mentioned they have been involved by the impunity within the police pressure and hoped the officer, who has been detained on fees of murder, is convicted and jailed.

“It will be a catastrophe if, in spite of everything that has occurred, nothing modifications and for this individual to stroll free. Younger individuals in my neighbourhood go to jail for a lot much less,” she mentioned with a shake in her voice.

“We didn’t ask for a policeman to get up one morning and put a bullet by means of my nephew’s coronary heart.

“I can’t breathe at evening – I’ve by no means felt such ache. Nahel by no means damage anybody.”

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