On Sunday April 15th, 2018, a Muslim woman wearing a Niqab was put under arrest for exercising her religious beliefs. This incident took place in Bellefontaine, a suburb of the city of Toulouse, France. It is alleged that the woman was asked to present her Identity card to Police, however being that it was a both low quality and a photocopy, they demanded that she lift her veil and show her face. There are not many details about how exactly police continued to attempt to have the woman remove her veil, however, something in their methods caused the woman to scream for help a short while later. The woman was subsequently placed under arrest, which was the cause for a group of approximately 30 civilians to surround the Officers and attack them. The Officers later used tear gas and other forms of weaponry in attempt to break up the group.
This was just one of the few causes for riot in Toulouse earlier this week. riots also took place in the neighbourhoods of Mirail and Reynerie. The other riots are believed to have been triggered in relation with the suicide of a man who was incarcerated in the nearby town of Seysses. The prisoner was found hung in his cell on April 14th, a day earlier. The reason for riot was due to speculation around the facts of the man’s death, with civilians alleging that prison guards may have been involved. Although local prosecutors are leading a judicial investigation, an official autopsy has identified suicide as the cause of the man’s death. Tensions between civilians and the Police in the area, especially in the neighbourhood of Mirail have always been a problem, however these recent riots have definitely brought to light the seriousness of those tensions.
These riots are part of a larger wave of rioting that has taken hold across France in challenge of President Emmanuel Macron’s government. In the city of Nantes, protesters burned an effigy of the president. in Paris, at the Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, a sit-in that had to be dispersed by Police was taking place. The country has seen an overall wave of strikes Across the country, Railway workers, or cheminots, and even Air France pilots. Those within the unionised workforce are not the only one’s in an uproar, Retirees have faced higher social charges on their pensions, while Students are protesting against a new application process, which gives universities an unfair extensive advantage as to who they can accept as an undergraduate.
These events now pose the question, as the citizens of France organize in protests of all varieties…are we looking at the next wave of French Revolutionaries?