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France: Macron Shuts Down Internet And Fines Protesters’ Parents

Above Photo: Protesters clash with riot police at the Porte d’Aix in Marseille, southern France, on June 30, 2023, over the murder of an adolescent by French police in a Paris suburb on June 27. Christophe Simon/AFP.

Monday was the sixth day of protest.

France’s government is targeting parents of minors and the internet to contain a people’s uprising. 

As he had threatened days earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to cut internet access in different locations on the outskirts of Paris starting on Monday, July 3.

The French Ministry of the Interior explained via a statement that the restrictions are implemented in order to “prevent the abusive use of social media platforms to coordinate illegal actions and incite violence.”

Previously, Macron had said that the protests originated from false publications on social media, violent video games and a lack of parental responsibility. He stated that on social media, there has been “unacceptable exploitation of the death of a teenager. I condemn, in the strongest terms, all those who have used this situation to attack our institutions. They have an overwhelming responsibility. Faced with this, this is the appropriate response.”

This occurs while the West, including France, lashed out at Iran several months ago over internet restrictions during the violent unrest. At the time, France vowed to facilitate network access in Iran to support the rioters that killed several people.

Meanwhile, the NGO Human Rights International has criticized Macron’s measure. It warns that “wanting to limit internet access in France is an act of censorship which only seeks to prevent the reality of the country from being shown.”

Fines to parents of protesting minors

In another controversial move, French Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti reported on Saturday that parents of minors participating in anti-police protests in France could face prosecution.

“Parents who do not take care of their children (under 17 years old), and leave them out at night knowing where they will go, will face two years in prison and a fine of €30,000,” Dupond-Moretti said.

Dupond-Moretti added that the authorities will crack down on the protests’ organizers, who have used social media to organize the protests. Dupond-Moretti warned that authorities could request IP addresses to identify users.

“So you’re 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17, you are at home and you’ve posted something on Snapchat, your account will be deleted, and you will be detected and punished,” he threatened.

Police and riot police have arrested more than 1000 demonstrators during mass protests against racism and police violence in France. The protests began in response to the murder of 17-year-old Nahel Marzouk by a French policeman during a traffic stop, which sparked outrage against racist and repressive policing.

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