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Nahel Merzouk

Justice for Nahel!

3 July 2023

The legendary movie 'la Haine,' directed by Matthieu Kassovitz, named after the proverb 'la haine attire la haine' (hatred attracts hatred), celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. The iconic movie masterfully captures the struggles of a French youth frequently subjected to police abuse. 

Little has changed since then, children of the republic continue to suffer police brutality whilst being demonised and infantilised by media and politicians alike. The feeling of restlessness is further exacerbated by the continued stigmatisation of third- and fourth-generation migrants treated as trespassers and second-class French citizens. France's universalist philosophy and assimilation-driven culture generate a chasm in its citizens' integration. This is especially true for the descendants of colonialised countries. 

In broad daylight this week, a 'peace guardian' executed Nahel, a 17-year-old child, for resisting arrest. Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident as there have been 16 fatalities in the last two years due to driving infractions.

Thousands of people are protesting and expressing their agony and horror at the flagrant injustice black citizens are subjected to on a daily occurrence. The heinous nature of the crime has ignited a revolt across a nation already fed up with their earned rights being eroded by greedy government policies and the blatant, uninhibited rise of Islamophobia throughout all institutions in the country. We support those taking to the streets to denounce the corroded working conditions, inhuman living conditions and the dismantling of health care. 

Peace cannot exist without justice; individuals and more importantly institutions must be held accountable for their actions. No one, especially those who are referred to as peace guardians, should be granted a licence to kill. 

'A riot is the language of the unheard'Dr Martin Luther King jr (1967) UCU unequivocally stands with our brothers and sisters in France protesting against police brutality. Social justice must be achieved in order to obliterate the cycle of oppression; the time for token gestures and virtue signalling is past; we support the call for real, structural and sustainable change.

Please find below a selection of resources which provide an understanding of the historical context behind the uprising in France. 

If you have two hours to spare, we would greatly recommend that you watch The Battle of Algiers (1966) , this chef d'oeuvre brilliantly depicts the anticolonial struggle of Algerian people 

UCU Black Members' Standing Committee 

Last updated: 3 July 2023