The Paris riots: a sign of decaying social justice system | Inquirer Opinion

The Paris riots: a sign of decaying social justice system

Last night, while my wife and I are so engrossed in computing the final grades of my students, I overheard from the evening news that the local media finally has reported on the ongoing violent riots in Paris and its adjacent cities as far as Marseille, and there are even reports that the demonstrations have already spilled over to the Belgian capital of Brussels.

I wonder, how come the riots are already happening for nearly a week now yet the media here only took the time to report on the matter yesterday? When in fact, as early as June 30 or July 1, I have been closely watching all the latest developments at the French capital.

Yet, hearing the news given by the local media I was truly irritated and pissed off. Besides the fact that it was late, worst the narration of facts is unmistakably incomplete and the whole context was in utter disarray.


It was true that the rioters on the fifth day of the ongoing protest had used a flaming car and rammed it into the house of one of the mayors. It was also true that when the incident happened his wife and children are inside and his spouse suffered an injury.


Yet, the bloody report stopped from there.

Hence, if an average person will listen to it, that freak may think that the whole thing that is happening now is the fault of the rioters, that they are violent, madmen, and anarchists.

This is truly a rubbish way of reporting for its aim is not to tell the whole story so that the people can form their own views and independent judgment on the whole matter. The first victim here is the truth and the casualties are those people who cannot think beyond the facts of what was reported.

Why is it that the media did not report the brutal fact that what triggered the protest, the rallies, and the massive condemnation is the gruesome killing at point-blank range in cold blood of the French police of a 17-year-old teenager by the name of Nahel who is of North African descent on June 27 at a traffic stop?

His cold-blooded murder by the racist French police is the spark of the pandemonium.

Why hide or omit this utterly important and crucial fact from the public? Note that even Ms. Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in an official communique to the French government that: “We are concerned by the killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by police in France on Tuesday. We note that an investigation has been launched into alleged voluntary homicide. This is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement.’’


The former prime minister of Britain issued these stern words of condemnation with regard to the rioters and looters in 2011.

“The sight of those young people running down the streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go, the problem of that is the complete lack of responsibility, a lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals.”

I agree, to a certain extent. But the question is: Does the government also have a sense of ethics and morality in the way it governs? Yes, some of the people in the crowds were immoral and unethical, but isn’t the government and society to blame, too? The French government should admit that it’s the systemic racism and discrimination and lack of professionalism of some of its policemen were also factors for the riots.

Further, how the hell are we going to explain the fact that the prime movers of this movement are very young? As young as 13 years old? The question must be asked: Why are our young so angry? Why they are so mad?

The 2023 Paris and 2011 London riots are indictment and rages against the social inequalities, discrimination, racism, and lack of social justice. The same is true of the gruesome murder of the black American George Floyd which sparked further the “Black Lives Matter” in the United States.

If the governments of the so-called Western “democracy” will not act on the complaints and grievances of its peoples, especially those from the bottom of the social strata, then France, England, the US, can expect the discontent, the rages, the resistance to continue, and anarchy to explode now and then.

The root cause of all these violence and class divisions is not only lack of economic opportunity, but a lack of social justice and human dignity, too.

Jose Mario D. De Vega,

assistant professor,

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National University of the Philippines

TAGS: letter, Paris

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