France has been devastated by a violent wave of protests after a 17-year-old youth was shot by police near Paris on Tuesday, sparking a ban on demonstrations in some cities, travel warnings and reigniting a debate on over-policing in marginalized communities.
Scenes emerged of people setting fires to vehicles and climbing onto buildings with smashed windows, while riot police officers fiercely clashed with demonstrators. The unrest prompted a crisis response from French President Emmanuel Macron, who held an emergency meeting with ministers as he attempts to bridge divisions and unite the country in his second term.
The riots have been spread in the neighboring countries. Reports are coming from Belgium, where Police and protesters clashed into the night in Brussels, the Belgian capital. Belgian police said the arrested 64 people, with one youth accused of beating a police officer.
As in France, Belgian cities are home to many Muslim residents with ties to former European colonies in Africa and the Middle East who complain of discrimination, unemployment and lack of opportunity.
Something similar happened in the Switzerland as well. Where more than 100 protesters have taken to the streets of Lausanne as protests sparked by the killing of 17-year-old French-Algerian Nahel M. by police in France spread to Switzerland.
Although nowhere near the scale of the protests in France, protesters attacked shops and police forces, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails on Saturday evening.
French Opposition parties wants declaration of Emergency
France’s right-wing parties, the Republicans and National Rally, are urging the government to issue an emergency declaration as part of a firmer stance. The government said it would mobilize 45,000 officers for Friday night and that armored vehicles would be used against riots.
However, the Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has said it is not yet necessary to declare a state of the emergency. One famously occurred in autumn 2005 as then-President Jacques Chirac sought to quell massive riots in France’s suburban districts, so-called banlieues, which are home to large populations of French Muslim citizens with roots in former colonies.
Events are increasing the racial and religious tensions
Events in France also are dramatically reawakening racial and religious tensions in Europe at a time of increasing brutality toward migrants seeking refuge in the EU, widespread anti-Muslim sentiment in many European nations and a rise in far-right political parties that have made stopping immigration, especially from Muslim countries, a core tenet of their platforms.
The unrest also comes amid an economic downturn in the EU caused by the coronavirus pandemic and war in Ukraine. Soaring prices, a slowdown in industrial output, budgetary belt-tightening and the beginnings of a recession in Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse, all make for a potentially combustible mix.
And while France is visibly struggling to get the situation under control, we can see the rise of its far-right – Marine Le Pen – with her tough-on-security, anti-immigration message. It is quite certain that this whole episode may well end up benefitting in the polls.
Look around Europe right now – north, south, east and west – and you see far-right parties of different flavors – nostalgic nationalist, populist nationalist, ultra conservative with neo-fascist roots and more – enjoying a notable resurgence.
Europe’s flawed Migrant Policies
In 2013-14, after an onslaught by the terrorism organization ISIS, millions of migrants and refugees started streaming into Europe from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Initially it looked easy, but with the time it has become the greatest challenge for European leaders and policymakers since the debt crisis.
The International Organization for Migration calls Europe the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean the world’s most dangerous border crossing. Yet despite the escalating human toll, the European Union’s collective response to its current migrant influx has been ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc’s borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees.
However, with nationalist parties ascendant in many member states, and concerns about Islamic terrorism looming large across the continent, it remains unclear if the bloc or its member states are capable of implementing lasting asylum and immigration reforms, but still they are doing it, may be due to political compulsion or pseudo secularism.
However, there were many Nations and leaders of especially the eastern European states like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, which have expressed a strong preference for non-Muslim migrants. They clearly opposed any move to accept Muslim migrants, due to obvious reasons.
Europe’s haphazard approach lead to this Crisis
The EU’s failure to implement an effective migration and asylum policy undermines the integration of migrants with the Europeans. Protecting EU external borders cannot come at the expense of migrants’ rights and lives.
The threat perception may vary, but there is one common denominator: it is necessary to increase the protection of the EU’s external borders. This is a crucial test of the union’s common security policy, which is indeed failed big time.
This unprecedented migration has created lot of cultural issue within societies across Europe. There are vast historical differences when it comes to member states’ experiences with migration, especially with the Muslims from the Middle East and Africa.
These complexities have made it very tough for politicians and leaders to devise a unified solution that would be acceptable for the Southern and Eastern flanks of the European Union, which perceive the problem quite differently. Any compromise—the traditional engine of EU integration—seems to be hard to achieve.
It has become EU’s Achilles heel, with its associated vulnerabilities, migration is probably the most dangerous challenge in front of EU. It combines political toxicity with a stark asymmetry of interests among member states. To mitigate its demographic decline—and to do the jobs most Europeans don’t want to do anymore—the union needs massive immigration, but many white Europeans do not want to see people of color, customs, religion, and unfamiliar habits in their neighborhood.