Posted by: Hackney Tours | April 18, 2009

Paris noir

What do we think of usually when we think of Paris? Skipping along the boulevards en route to a tantalising tryst or a literary lunch? Coveting a coffee while peoplewatching from a fashionable cafe’s terrasse?

Well the big talking point this week in Paris has not been the latest rehashing of Descartes and his contribution to the foundations of modern thought, but the leaking of CCTV pictures from a Parisian night bus. It shows a man on his own being beaten up by a group of young men on a Noctilien service.

Not a rare event in a big city you might think, but giving it extra spice and spurring much debate is a racial element; the victim was white while his attackers (or most of them) weren’t. Furthemore the verbal abuse they added to the kicking they gave him suggested they were not ethnically French.

Given that certain suburban housing projects of Paris flare up on a fairly regular basis (as portrayed in the film La Haine) a banlieu-backlash is unsurprising. This incident plays into the hands of the extreme right, and interviewed in Le Figaro the victim said he did not want to become a cause-celebre for those who would make political capital from his bad fortune.

A policeman was reported suspended for leaking the CCTV pictures, and a quick search of YouTube found a video which claimed the footage had been removed, giving a link instead to an equivalent Russian site. This, by the way, is why the internet is playing havoc with libel laws and court injunctions.

The video claimed governmental interference, but while playing down racial tensions might be one of the motives behind the footage’s removal, its distribution certainly constituted a violation of the victim’s privacy.

Having just returned from Paris in a work capacity, and having had two clients pickpocketed, Bookpacking can testify that – like London – Paris has its dark side.


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