President Macron cancels trip to Germany as riots grow in France: Calls for calm after fury erupted at his trip to Elton John gig while his country burned
- Macron called off the trip amid widespread rioting and unrest across France
- Earlier this year civil unrest in France caused King Charles III to cancel his visit
Macron had already evoked intense anger across France after he was filmed dancing at an Elton John concert while his country burned on Wednesday night.
Now the violence has taken a toll on the French president’s international commitments as he stays at home to deal with the crisis sparked by the killing of 17-year-old French-Algerian boy Nahel Merzouk by police earlier this week.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeir’s office made the announcement on Saturday after Macron phoned to request a postponement of what would have been a historic first state visit by a French president to Germany in 23 years.
This is already the second time in months that civil unrest has hurt Macron diplomatically. King Charles III cancelled his first foreign as monarch, initially planned for France, because of protests over Macron’s pension reform plans.
French President Emmanuel Macron called off his trip to Germany amid unrest. He is pictured at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday
Clashes between police and protestors continue after the death of 17-year-old Nahel, who was shot in the chest by police in Nanterre on Tuesday
A man passes by a wall illuminated by a burning barricade on which is written ‘Police kills’ in the center of Lyon, central France, Friday
‘A state visit is a visit of friendship, purely ceremonial, there will be a better time to do so,’ a Macron aide told Reuters, asking not to be named.
‘The French would not have understood if he had gone to Germany. These days in Paris are important.’
Macron’s office said he spoke with Steinmeier and, ‘given the internal security situation, the president (Macron) said he wishes to stay in France over the coming days.’
The trip, supposed to officially start on Monday, would have seen Macron travel to Berlin and two other German cities.
Given the importance of the French-German relationship on the European political scene, the scrapping of the official trip was a clear sign of the gravity of France’s unrest.
Rioting and looting raged in cities around France for a fourth night yesterday despite a huge police deployment and 1,311 arrests.
Authorities are now preparing for a possible fifth day after family and friends bury the 17-year-old whose killing by police unleashed the unrest and forced the French president to cancel an important trip abroad.
France’s Interior Ministry announced the new figure for arrests around the country, where 45,000 police officers fanned out in a so-far unsuccessful bid to quell days of violence that was triggered after the teen’s death on Tuesday.
Despite an appeal to parents by President Emmanuel Macron to keep their children at home, street clashes between young protesters and police raged on.
About 2,500 fires were set and stores were ransacked, according to authorities.
Elton John with Mr and Mrs Macron and John’s husband David Furnish (right) backstage at the Accor Arena
Macron was pictured with his wife Brigitte at the Elton John concert at Paris’s Accor Arena
Prior to having to back out of his Germany trip, Macron was met with significant backlash over a clip that emerged of him dancing the night away at an Elton John concert.
While rioters took to the streets again, Macron was filmed at Paris’s Accor Arena, watching the singer on his farewell tour.
Meanwhile gangs pillaged shops, targeting high-end shopfronts next to the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries.
The violence sparked by the shooting of Nehal, caught on video, has reignited longstanding complaints by poor and racially mixed urban communities of police violence and racism. Macron had denied there is systemic racism in French law enforcement agencies.