TODAY.AZ / Politics

French Riot – Paris two weeks before Olympics

09 July 2024 [11:50] - TODAY.AZ
By Leyla Tarverdiyeva, Day.Az

At the beginning of January this year, the French Ministry of the Interior was pleased to report that vandals burned 10 percent fewer cars on New Year's Eve than in the previous year. "Total" 745. The department, it turns out, does not know how to count, because on the night of January 1, 2023, hooligans burned 690 cars. That is, the situation has worsened this year. But the French were happy anyway, because it had been worse.

Setting fire to cars parked on the streets has become a kind of sport in France. Every year, the French police proudly report on positive changes. So, on January 1, 2021, after reporting the destruction of 861 cars, the Interior Ministry proudly added that this was an excellent result, since 1,457 arson attacks were registered a year ago (!). And the French were really happy. 

And what else could they do if the police were unable to protect their property? 1457 was a record in the entire history of this "wonderful" tradition, which testifies to the triumph of democracy and the primacy of human rights. It dates back to 1988 in Strasbourg, when the mayor's office banned young people from using firecrackers after they hit cars a couple of times and set them on fire. But the youth, brought up in the spirit of freedom and democracy, proudly stood up for their right to smash other people's property, and since then, the now purposeful arson of vehicles has turned into a New Year's tradition, as touching as setting fire to a Christmas log. Well, of course, freedom-loving France does not tolerate any prohibitions there. Don't leave cars on the street for those who don't like it...

I remembered this in connection with what is happening on the streets of French cities today. After the announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections, riots began in the country. And it would be understandable if they were satisfied with the losers. No, supporters of the victorious left front came out to the pogroms together. And, really, what a holiday without outrages.

According to French media, on the night of July 8, riots began in Paris and other major cities of the country. Activists began to smash up shops and cafes, destroy bus stops, and throw stones and firecrackers at police. Tear gas and other special means were used to disperse the rampaging "winners". It all started as a peaceful action on Republic Square, but then it turned into pogroms. Those celebrating the victory began smashing storefronts and bus stops, setting fire to garbage cans and bicycles, and throwing molotov cocktails at the police. According to French media reports, hundreds of masked protesters ran around the city, fired fireworks at gendarmes, and began building barricades and setting fires on some streets. In response, the police blocked a number of streets and attacked the demonstrators with tear gas bombs.

It is noteworthy that on the eve of the second round of elections, shopkeepers began preparations for the upcoming "celebrations". In this country, they are already so used to pogroms and the fact that the police are unable to prevent them that they decided not to rely on law enforcement forces. Many merchants, taught by bitter experience, boarded up doors and storefronts with boards or covered them with metal sheets in the evening. We prepared for the inevitable, in a word. Instead of trying to prevent pogroms, the Paris Police Prefecture warned entrepreneurs that there is a real danger of violence on the day of the announcement of the election results.

And it's not over yet. Apparently, the political destabilization will continue, because neither the right nor the Macronists wanted to enter into a coalition with the left, and the victorious New Popular Front does not have an absolute majority to govern the country. At the same time, neither side intends to simply give up. The victory of the left generally came as a shock to everyone. Macron started early elections in order to trample the right and strengthen his position, and did not expect that the people would choose the left front. The French refused both the neo-fascists and Macron. It was necessary to choose someone.

The formation of its own parliament and government is an internal matter of the state. And, let's be fair, France does have rich republican traditions. The question here is more of a moral order - why is French society always ready to smash and destroy, turn its own cities into garbage dumps and ashes. Something must be wrong with government policy if this happens with frightening regularity.

Shortly before the pandemic, the "yellow vests" movement passed through the country like a tornado. Last year was remembered for the prolonged riots that grew out of protests against pension reform. 

The current one began with a "manure" farmer riot that lasted almost until the summer. And now the consequences of Macron's thoughtless decision to dissolve parliament are next. Experts still cannot explain this step of the French president with full confidence. What for? Why was it necessary to inflame passions, and even on the eve of the Olympic Games? In just two weeks, the Olympic Flame should be lit in Paris, and bicycles are being burned and storefronts are being smashed on the streets of the capital. Olympic France has enough security problems as it is. 

Ultra-liberal principles do not allow preventing riots, not because the authorities do not want to do this, but because the situation has long been out of control when liberalism turned into permissiveness. Shopkeepers should not board up shop windows in anticipation of pogroms, they pay taxes, which are used by law enforcement agencies, ideally designed to protect law and order. But here a certain crisis arises, because in a liberal society, a vandal also seems to have the right to smash bus stops and set fire to bicycles out of a sense of protest or joy. If the left, having gained a majority (although not a critical one), celebrates their victory in this way, it is not difficult to imagine what would have awaited Paris in the event of their defeat.

Yes, everyone has the right to protest, but in the countries of victorious ultra-liberalism, everyone gets the right to unlimited actions within the framework of their protest. The rout staged during the riots became a characteristic feature of the French riot. And this happens with such frequency that there are suspicions that it is beneficial to the authorities for some reason.

According to the general opinion of French experts, Macron did not expect a victory for the left. He was focused on opposing the right, and the French decided in their own way.

Thanks to his short-sightedness and self-confidence, the country found itself in a difficult situation on the eve of the Olympic Games. It seems that the Olympics are the last thing that French society and the authorities are interested in now, and if France is disgraced, no one will be particularly upset. Including Emmanuel Macron.

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