Stéphane Ravier, Senator for National Rally from the Bouches-du-Rhône, reacted to the celebrations of the supporters of the Algerian national football team after they qualified for the final of the CAN, the Coupe d’Afrique des Nations 2019, known in English as the CAF (Africa Cup of Nations).
Questioned by BFMTV, he said: “I, as mayor of Marseille, I would have used a bylaw to prohibit the [Algerian] flags in the streets of the city.
Ravier, who is also a Marseille city councilor, denounced the “provocation” of many Arab supporters. “It is a provocation […] The French who love France and who support the national team only support this jersey and brandish only the French flag. What I found yesterday was that there was only the Algerian flag, and at no time was there a French flag,”he pointed out.
Although it was a match between Algeria and Nigeria, Stéphane Ravier would have liked to see French flags in the hands of “these Algerians or the French of Algerian origin”.
“One really felt during this ongoing demonstration, that their attachment lies rather on the side of Algeria than on the side of France,” he said.
On Sunday night, in Marseille – as in many other cities in France – the victory of Algeria provoked scenes of jubilation but also violence.
“At the end of sports events that should be a moment of celebration, we see that it is not joy that gets the upper hand but violence, all exacerbated by a national feeling that is not ours,” concluded Ravier.
Ravier had proposed to the mayor LR Jean-Claude Gaudin to ban the Algerian flag in the streets of the port city three days before the final of the African Cup of Nations (CAN).
In an interview with Valeurs Actuelles, Ravier said: “Despite the complacency of Jean-Claude Gaudin who says that it went rather well – it is certain that if he had been on the balcony of his town hall, he never saw much since the police had blocked the Algerian fans over the Old Port, they did not have access.
“I still say that the violence is just starting and are as intolerable today as yesterday. These demonstrations by thousands of Algerians or French nationals of Algerian origin, create disturbances to public order exacerbated by these brandished flags.
When you wear a jersey, you support a team, when you hold up a flag, you adhere, you claim a nation – and in this case it is not ours. It is not the one in which these supporters live and which they enjoy every day – they benefit in particular from its social largesse.
“I believe that these brandished flags are part of the excitement and thereby increase the risk of disorderly public order. It is in this context that I proposed to the mayor of Marseille to ban it.”
But even if this municipal decree is applied, the thousands of Algerians who flock to the big cities all at the same time, are likely to ignore it. But Ravier insisted that law enforcement deal with the challenge.
“The difficulty comes from the fact that there are thousands, even tens of thousands of French of Algerian origin or Franco-Algerians who brandish this flag. I am a politician, I am not the prefect, nor the director of the municipal police. It will be up to the competent people to implement the necessary means. I think we should already block the main arteries.”
The French Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior, Laurent Nunez has meanwhile announced that the Champs-Elyseés will not be closed to the public for the final of the African Cup of Nations. He also rejected the introduction of fan zones requested by a police union.
Overflows and violence are expected again on Friday night on the famous avenue in Paris. While Algeria face Senegal in the final of the CAN, the police fear new incidents from supporters of the Algerian team.
The Alternative Police union has also asked the Paris police chief to create fan zones in order to “secure and supervise the crowd that will attend this final and anticipate any flow of violence”. Shops were ransacked and looted not only on the Champs-Elyseés, but also in several other French cities.
After the first incidents on Thursday, July 11, the National Rally demanded that the Champs-Elyseés be closed off to the public.
Quoted by La Provence, Nunez however rejected the demand saying that it could lead to more troubles. According to Nunez, fan zones because, have “never prevented popular jubilation”.
The Secretary of State announced at the same time that the security presence will be much larger than on Sunday, July 14, but that “the context is different, since we will not have to simultaneously manage the national holiday”.
In a statement issued on Monday, July 15, the Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises Paris Ile-de-France asked the Prefecture of Police and the City Hall of Paris to strengthen “measures taken to ensure the safety of shops and merchants from the Champs-Elysees sector”.
— Niall Quinn (@NiallQuinn) July 11, 2019