French member of parliament of the New Ecologic and Social Peoples Union (NUPES) Sandrine Rousseau. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON


French MP sparks outrage with claim ‘police should never kill, not even terrorists’


A prominent French ‘green’ MP has been forced to retract her comments after sparking fury in France by claiming on Twitter that the police should never use firearms – even during terrorist attacks.

Europe Ecology MP Sandrine Rousseau, who calls herself an “ecofeminist”, made her contentious tweets in relation to the police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel at a traffic checkpoint in Paris on June 27. His death spurred several days of violent riots across France.

“The police cannot and must not kill. Never,” she tweeted. “It is a simple principle. A republican principle.

“Shooting, even in the case of terrorism, should not be the preferred option. It can only exist in extreme cases. Justified and without any other alternative,” she added.

Several French left-wing MPs allege Nahel’s death was a case of police brutality and cite what they claim is the aggression of officers working in inner city areas. According to some politicians, the misuse of firearms by law enforcement agencies is a widespread problem in France.

Among them, ‘green’ French MP Manuel Bompard stated that the police needed to be “as unarmed as possible”.

Rousseau added: “The emergency laws following the terrorist attacks play a role in the current situation,” referring to a 2017 law brought in to counter terrorism that allows the police to fire in the event of refusal to comply or self-defence.

However, her remarks angered many in France who felt she was undermining what they see as the bravery of the hundreds of security force agents involved in several terrorist attacks in France over the past decade, French newspaper Le Figaro noted.

Several questioned why she seemed to see a difference between “terrorism” on the one hand and “extreme situations” on the other – and what that difference was.

Outraged members of the public took to social media to express their displeasure.

“You would rather have us die, the important thing is to disarm our forces of order,” one posted.

Another wrote: “I wish for you, Madam, to never find yourself caught up in a terrorist attack.”

One post contained photos of those who died in a terrorist attack in Paris on November  13, 2015, with the message: “The death toll from the attacks by Islamist terrorists … stands at 130 dead and 413 injured. In the end, an assault by the forces of law and order put an end to the horror and killed the terrorists. Fortunately, our forces of law and order were well armed.”

The avalanche of angry public reactions forced Rousseau to remove her messages. “I delete my two previous tweets and apologise for offending the victims and their loved ones,” she said.

“The framework for the use of lethal weapons is a discussion that is fundamental to our democracy, but absolutely does not fit the format of Twitter,” she said.

On Friday, her party colleague Julien Bayou deemed the shooting of Nahel an “assassination”.

Separately, it has been reported that officers in Nanterre – colleagues of the policemen accused of shooting the young man – have been receiving threats, with some the officers reportedly being forced into hiding, together with their families.