By Dave Sewell
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Racist police provocation lies behind riots in France

This article is over 8 years, 11 months old
Issue 2363
The French state has banned the full veil - and criminalised some Muslim women

The French state has banned the full veil – and criminalised some Muslim women (Pic: Khalid Albaih/flickr)

Resentment at the racist policing of France’s Muslims exploded in riots in the town of Trappes near Versailles last week.

Police stopped Hajar, a 20 year old Muslim woman, when she was shopping with her family on Thursday of last week. Hajar wears the full veil, which is illegal to wear in public in France.Within minutes she and her husband had been arrested.

The police say that Hajar didn’t cooperate, and that her 21 year old husband tried to strangle one cop. 

The world’s media picked up this version of events. But Hajar and her mother tell a very different story.

“As usual I cooperated with the check,” Hajar told the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. “I was about to lift my veil when one officer began to shove my mother violently.”

When Hajar’s husband objected, she says officers threw him to the floor, grabbed Hajar by the head and pushed her onto the bonnet of the car.

Both were handcuffed, arrested and “yelled at as if we were dogs”. Hajar’s husband was detained overnight. Hajar’s mother Vivianne said, “For me, this wasn’t a check. It was a provocation, a threat from the police.”

Hundreds of people surrounded the police station on Friday, demanding Hajar’s husband be released.


This became a riot that continued into long the night, and began afresh on Saturday evening. People burned cars and bus stops, and disturbances spread to nearby towns.

Local government chief Erard Corbin blamed “a hard core who take every opportunity to try and set the town alight”. But even one resident whose car was destroyed, Fatiha Bouarahouane, told Le Monde newspaper, “The police were asking for it. 

“When someone gets checked 100 times, the 101st time it will kick off.”

The state responded in full force. One 14 year old boy lost his eye to a police “flashball” grenade.

One of six men arrested on Friday needed 15 stitches, with large head wounds and a leg in plaster. He says seven cops beat him, yelling insults including “you deserve to die”.

Cops boasted about their exploits on social media. At least one praised fascist leader Marine Le Pen on Facebook. But according to Interior minister Manuel Valls, “Police did their job perfectly”.

The repression seemed to have imposed calm as Socialist Worker went to press. But no one expects it to last.

“The whole town is angry,” one resident told journalists. “Do you really think we’re in revolt over one police check that ended badly? 

“The whole atmosphere here makes us want a revolution.”

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