France To Sacrifice Its Security Amid Growing Terrorist Threat

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France To Sacrifice Its Security Amid Growing Terrorist Threat

Illustrative image. Photo: Francois Mori

Widespread protests are taking place in numerous world regions.

The countries in Central and Latin America, such as Peru, Guatemala, Chile, and Brazil, face mass demonstrations against existing political regimes.

Armenian defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh region resulted in violence in Yerevan. A wave of protests came in Georgia after the parliamentary elections.

The protests do not subside in the European region. The situation in Belarus remains tense after the presidential elections in August 2020. The largest protests over the past decades took place in Poland after the introduction of a strict abortion ban.

Violent demonstrations and clashes with police are reported in Germany, amid the introduction of new restrictive measures against the COVID pandemic. The entrepreneurs go out on the streets of Spain, Ukraine, Italy, England, where the demonstrations often lead to clashes with law enforcement officers.

British police officers are detaining participants of protests against the government’s quarantine measures in Liverpool:

Police actively used water cannons to disperse protesters in Berlin:

Situation remains unstable in France, where, since mid-September, the “yellow jackets” and trade unions protested against job cuts in large employer companies.

Mass protests once again flare up in Paris and other big cities. Surprisingly, they are not related to restrictive measures or the economic consequences of the pandemic. This time, the streets are flooded with those who disagreed with the introduction of a new draft law “On global security”.

The new law prohibits the distribution on social networks and in the media of any images or videos of law enforcement officers at the time they perform their duties, according to which they can be identified. The purpose of the law project is to protect police officers from threats of persecution by Islamists, radical activists, criminals etc.

Article 24 banning filming of law enforcement officials was approved by a large majority on November 20 in the first reading by the French National Assembly. This law project provides for a fine of 45 thousand euros and a year in prison.

The day after the adoption at first reading by the Assembly of a text penalizing the malicious dissemination of images of the police officers, demonstrations took place in the center of Paris,  this Saturday, November 21. Under the knockdown, about 1000 people attended the first protests in Paris, but even such a small rally turned into clashes with the police, who were forced to use water cannons and tear gas. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities: Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rennes, Lille.

During the protests on November 22, at least 23 participants were arrested. Some people, including police officers, were injured.

At the same time, some videos demonstrate police support for the protesters. The offiers take off their helmets and show their faces.

The demonstrators are ambiguous about the consequences of the adoption of such a law.

The provisions of the draft law threaten the free information of the population and the freedom of press. Journalists do not support this law project because it prevents them from freely reporting on protests or other events where the police are involved. Discontent with journalists in France turned into an acute phase after several journalists were detained at a demonstration on Tuesday, one of them was detained for 12 hours.

The reaction of the Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanen, was not long in coming. The next day, he stated that media personnel must be accredited for each manifestation in order to be able to freely cover the event on the spot. Later, he said that anyone can film and take photos without an accreditation, only the publication of videos and photos of law enforcement officers with captions calling for violence and hatred will be punished. On Saturday, he wrote on his Twitter that ” It is in no way intended to accredit or authorize a journalist to cover an event: each journalist is obviously free to do so or not.”

As journalists complain about the threat to the principle of freedom of speech, then most of the protesters fear an increase in arbitrariness of law enforcement officials.

At the same time, the threat of terrorist acts is growing, number of murders is increasing in the country, gangs and entire diasporas have got out of the control of law enforcement agencies. This was confirmed by the fierce clashes between the Chechen and Arab diasporas in the summer of 2020.

However, the very population of France is likely not to notice the existing threats and continues to persistently promote the neoliberal agenda, while sacrificing their own defenders.

Already in the summer, after the Black Lives Matter movement began in the US, France rushed to take action to prevent any kind of racism and sacrificed the safety of its own police officers.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that a racist had no right to wear the uniform of a policeman or gendarme. The minister will not allow discrimination in the ranks of the law enforcement officers, any case will result in suspension from service, investigation and punishment. Policemen and gendarmes were prohibited from performing actions that are potentially life-threatening: no strangulation, pressure on the neck or the back of the head. The police officer, betrayed by her own leadership, managed to bring Castaner to the resignation.

Also today, liberal-minded activists do not think about ensuring the safety of police officers, who are increasingly risking their lives to protect citizens. The population unreasonably fears police brutality more than, for example, the growing terrorist threat.

An illustrative example for French citizens could be the Belorussian opposition, who deliberately spreads personal information of the law enforcement officers to expose them and their families to the prosecution. Apparently, such a cruelty and impunity represent the unmitigated good of Western model for opposition activists.

The ensuing discussion in the French political establishment confirms the deep contradictions both among the country’s political elites and in society itself. To all appearances, today’s obstacles are just another signal that France is not yet ready to blindly follow a neoliberal, individualistic agenda and remains  to some extent committed to right-wing conservative values.

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