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French riots then and now: how 2023 compares with 2005

The riots triggered by the death of a teen, who was shot dead by police at a traffic stop, are the biggest in France’s multi-ethnic high-rise estates in nearly two decades.

By some measures, the week of unrest that followed the killing of 17-year-old Nahel M. has been more intense than the three weeks of strife that followed the deaths of two teenagers, one black, one of Arab origin, while fleeing a police identity check in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in November 2005.

AFP looks at the figures:

Seven nights of rioting in 2023 have led to almost as many arrests as over three-and-a-half weeks in 2005.

A total of 3,486 arrests have been made so far, according to interior ministry figures. Of these, 374 people have already been brought to court and tried, according to the justice ministry.

During the 2005 riots, 4,728 were arrested, according to the police. Hundreds more were arrested afterwards over their role in the unrest.

There has been far more destruction of property in the latest outpouring of anger over discrimination against minority youths by police. A total of 1,105 buildings have been set on fire or damaged and 5,892 vehicles have been torched,  according to the interior ministry.

In nearly a month of violence in 2005, 10,346 vehicles were torched and 307 buildings — 233 publicly-owned and 74 privately-owned —  were destroyed or damaged. Far more police have been deployed to quell the current unrest, peaking at 45,000.

So far, 808 officers have been injured and 269 police or gendarmerie buildings have come under attack, according to interior ministry figures. In 2005, 11,700 police and gendarmes were deployed at the height of the riots. A total of 224 were injured.

While fireworks have been the weapon of choice against the police over the past week, in 2005, some officers came under live fire. The France Assureurs federation of insurers, puts the current bill at at least 280 million euros, stressing that many claims have yet to be made.

The president of the federation, Florence Lustman, estimated Tuesday a payout of “at least” 280 million euros, compared with 204 million euros in current terms in 2005. The damage is estimated by the president of the French employers’ organisation Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, at a billion euros.

The Paris public transport operator estimated the damage to its network at 20 million euros in the first six days of riots. This includes “burned buses, a torched tramway, two damaged tramways and urban infrastructure which was smashed,” the regional transport network told AFP.


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