posts » French riots 2023 -- Marseille

French riots 2023

In scenes reminiscent of the London Riots of 2011, the police totally lost control of Marseille last night - as well as many other towns across France.

These riots should surprise no-one. The background factors leading to these events have been unadressed for years, and are identical to those that exist in the United Kingdom and other Western "democractic" capitalist states: poverty, insecure housing, lack of education, disempowerment and racism.

Yes: the French State is racist. In the country of libert, egalité et fraternité (liberty, egality and fraternity), large sectors of -- predominantly non-white -- society are disenfrachised and forgotten about. They are fighting back.

And in this multi-cultural city, the divides are even more notable than elsewhere. I have previously written of the poverty I encountered in the neuf trois -- the Seine-St-Denis (93) department on the outskirts of Paris, depicted in the film Les Miserables just a few years ago. In Marseille, it's perhaps even worse: in the housing estates surrounding the hospital where I'm currently working, the poverty rate exceeds 60% -- compared with 26.4% for Marseille as a whole, and 43.5% for the French quartiers prioritaires (priority areas for development, particularly focussed on urban poverty zones that are targetted nationally for public intervention).

And while state leaders postulate (Macron even made a token statement a few days ago condemning the killing of the 17 year old Nael Merzouk and saying it was "unexplainable and inexcusable"), the damage is done and ongoing. Today, the local senate representative Stéphane Le Rudulier from Macron's Les Républicains even suggested that the rioters should be the ones to pay for the damages -- even if they were to take decades to repay. This isn't a viewpoint that helps the situation; conversely, it demonstrates the gap between an elite ruling class and the people of France. Until this is addressed, there will be no improvements, no advances; the dream of liberté, egalité et fraternité is long dead. Will it ever be revived?