President Emmanuel Macron criticised social media and video games for fuelling the riots that have followed the killing of a teenager by Parisian police.
On June 27, 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk was pulled over by two police officers for speeding in a bus lane. It’s reported that Merzouk attempted to drive away from the stop, which one of the officers responded to by shooting Merzouk.
Merzouk was pronounced dead an hour after the shooting, and videos of the incident have sparked riots across the country, as well as French territories and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Belgium.
On Friday (June 30), French President Emmanuel Macron said the teenager’s death is “inexplicable” and “inexcusable,” but added that protests must be tempered in order for justice to prevail.
The President also noted that a third of those arrested in the riots were “young or very young.” He attributed this to the use of social media in organising protests, and suggested that video games are to blame for their actions.
Violent video games incite a “disconnect from reality,” argued the French head of state, who claimed young protesters “are acting out the video games that have poisoned their minds,” said Macron.
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Macron stated it was the “responsibility of parents to keep [protesters] at home,” and requested social media sites to remote “sensitive content” related to the riots.
However, Macron’s statement has been criticised by supporters of the rioters as detracting from the tragedy of the incident and minimising the human response to the loss of a young person.
Recently, the United Nations Human Rights office pleaded with the French government to examine the “deep-rooted issues of racism and racial discrimination” present in its law enforcement agencies.
The police officer suspected of shooting Nahel was charged with “voluntary homicide by a person in authority” on June 29 and is currently under investigation.