Black Lives Matter Riots in France?
Is Nahel Merzouk France’s George Floyd? On June 27, French police shot Merzouk in the head after a traffic stop. Initially, the police claimed Merzouk tried to ram officers with his car. Later, video footage showed that Merzouk was shot while trying to flee.
The video went viral. The police were caught in a lie. It sparked accusations of police violence against black, Muslim minorities. Merzouk was of Algerian and Moroccan descent. Many have moved to France from its former colonies. They are concentrated in poor neighborhoods and feel alienated from French society.
These neighborhoods exploded. Over 700 businesses were burned, and over 1,300 cars torched. One fireman died trying to put out the flames in an underground car park. Forty-five-thousand officers were deployed to stop the riots; 2,000 rioters were arrested. Over 500 of the officers were injured. Schools and cultural centers have been attacked.
Rioters went after the family of the right-wing mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses, driving a burning car into his house. One of his children was injured, and his wife broke her leg as she escaped.
“People talk about riots, but for those of us who have to deal with all this, it’s not riots, it’s war,” said the town’s police chief.
Riots spread to Switzerland and Belgium. Seven were arrested in Lausanne, Switzerland, after teens smashed shop windows. Others threw paving stones and at least one Molotov cocktail at police. Belgian police arrested 64 in Brussels, with one youth accused of attacking a police officer.
Even for a country where protests and strikes are a national sport, these were extreme—the worst riots since 2005. They’ll have major ramifications for the future of France.
The riots highlight and widen a divide in France. Over 10 percent of France’s population was born outside its borders. A large influx of migrants from the colonies in Algeria and Morocco have never really integrated into French society. The migrants claim they’ve been denied opportunities because of racism. The French claim the opportunities are there—but they need to embrace French society and culture, and let get of their own traditions.
These migrants have been shunted into impoverished districts of France’s big cities. Many have become no-go zones, where the police are not welcome. Six million people—10 percent of the country—live in what the government calls “urban policy priority districts.”
After the police shooting, residents of these districts are more convinced than ever that authorities are out to get them and that they need to fight back.
But there’s another side of France that just saw their towns and communities torched, and are scared. The riots were bad, but they’re not new. They breakout every few years.
The riots take place against a steady background of Islamist attacks in Europe. On June 8, a Syrian migrant stabbed people in a park in southeastern France, including four young children, between 1 and 3 years old. On June 10, a 15-year-old boy was killed and three people were injured in a shooting in Stockholm, Sweden, shortly before another unrelated shooting in the area injured three people. Gang violence in Sweden has exploded since 2015, when the government opened the nation up to the second-highest number of migrants per capita in Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron has become more and more extreme in his rhetoric. He’s given police power to shut down mosques and kick out preachers. He’s outlawed homeschooling, primarily to stop Muslim children from avoiding the French education system. The French interior minister has dissolved dozens of French Muslim organizations and deported radicals. “Islam is a religion living through a crisis today, everywhere in the world,” said Macron in a landmark 2020 speech. Yet Islamist attacks and mass riots continue.
But Macron’s measures clearly have not solved the problems. What are the French to do?
A lot of news outlets see the parallels between what is happening in France and the Black Lives Matter riots in the United States. But there are crucial differences. In France, these riots are leading to a clash of civilizations.
Those who want to defend their families and towns need new champions.
UnHerd wrote this morning that “the events of the past week are most likely to benefit the far right, possibly even bring it to power in the next presidential election.”
France is becoming more authoritarian, and more Catholic, in response to chaotic, Muslim-led violence. That’s not intended as a criticism of any particular religion. It’s simply a statement of what is happening.
National Rally is a fringe political party, the successor of the National Front, and most commonly associated with the Le Pen family. It’s been kept out of power for decades, considered too extreme for government. The National Front’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen had a history of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. But since he left his leadership role, the party has worked hard to distance itself from him. Even so, it’s anti-migrant and anti-Muslim stance means it is often labeled far-right—though much of its economic and foreign policy would be better characterized as far-left.
Either way, this extreme party is closer than ever to power. As mainstream parties have split, National Rally has stayed together. Ahead of the riots, polls marked Marine Le Pen as the second most popular leader in France. If you’re concerned about the riots and don’t think Macron has done enough, it’s hard to see a viable option.
These riots could well usher Le Pen to power and bring a new era for France.
This new era would see a strong leader and a more overtly Christian France rise.
Radical Islamist violence in France in recent years has brought Christianity much more into politics. Le Pen especially talks about it often. Le Pen’s religion is “a secularized Christianity as culture,” Rogers Brubaker, a sociologist at the University of California–Los Angeles, told Atlantic magazine in 2017. “It’s a matter of belonging rather than believing,” he said. Brubaker described it as a Christianity that says, “We are Christians, precisely because they are Muslims. Otherwise, we are not Christian in any substantive sense.” The same trend is underway in Germany, where the upstart Alternative für Deutschland is also reaching new heights of popularity on the back of an anti-migrant, pro-Christian message.
Even without Le Pen, the riots are making France more authoritarian. Macron has been criticized for partying while Paris burns. But he’s already signaled that he wants more control over social media. “Platforms and networks are playing a major role in the events of recent days,” he said.
“Snapchat, TikTok and several others serve as places where violent gatherings have been organized, but there’s also a form of mimicry of the violence, which for some young people, leads them to lose touch with reality,” he continued. “You get the impression that for some of them they are experiencing on the street the video games that have intoxicated them.” This seems to be where he’ll focus his response—more government control of what can be said online.
This movement toward a more authoritarian, anti-Islamist, Christian Europe is one we at the Trumpet have been forecasting for years. Faced with the violence of last week, it’s easy to see why many in France would embrace such a vision. But the Bible warns us about what is coming. It’s very different from the Donald Trump-led backlash against the Black Lives Matter riots in the U.S.
For decades, Herbert W. Armstrong forecast that Europe would unite into a 10-nation superpower. But most of the Continent’s history is of one European nation fighting another. What force is strong enough to bind Europe?
Attacks on Europe from outside are one powerful motivating force. Europeans certainly have one common enemy: radical, extremist Islam. But there is one other important factor all European nations share: their Christian heritage.
In August 1978, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in the Christian-living magazine The Good News, “Europeans want their own united military power! … They have made a real effort toward union in the Common Market. … But they well know there is but one possibility of union in Europe—and that is through the Vatican.”
Revelation 17 discusses a Europe dominated by this church. It describes a woman who sits “upon many waters.” Her power stretches over a vast portion of the Earth. Typically, in the Bible, a woman represents a church. The “kings of the earth have committed fornication” with this woman, meaning that she is a major political power.
Verse 12 describes “ten kings” who “receive power” as part of this empire the woman leads. These are 10, strong, authoritarian leaders—kings—not presidents or prime ministers.
The book of Daniel is another key book of Bible prophecy, that fits hand in glove with the book of Revelation. Daniel 11 says that “at the time of the end” a European “king of the north” will go to war with an Islamist “king of the south.” The Islamist violence provokes a dramatic response.
Europe is clearly heading in the direction that the Bible forecast in detail. So many of these specific prophecies are on the brink of being fulfilled. To understand these prophecies and prove their meaning for yourself, read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.