World Under deadly attack, French police demand action
Grief and anger after deadly blasts target Afghan school
Residents of the Shia neighbourhood blame the government for the attack that has killed 58, mostly students.The sound shook her two daughters, nine and six, who had just returned from school earlier in the day. The 28-year-old tried to calm them while rushing to the window to see what happened. She feared the worst, as Dasht-e-Barchi, the Shia neighbourhood of Kabul where she lives, has repeatedly been targeted by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group in recent years.
Police officers gathered outside France's National Assembly make for a powerful image: the proximity of security and politics, made real on the banks of the Seine.
Often criticised for overly aggressive tactics during protests, French police come here on Wednesday as protesters themselves, calling for a tougher response to the aggression security forces face.
Within the past month, a policeman was killed during an anti-drugs operation, and a policewoman was stabbed to death in a targeted attack. "It was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Stanislas Gaudon, head of the Alliance police union. "It was something we were afraid of, almost expecting."
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It has been a year since Atiqullah Tanha's wife was murdered during a cold-blooded killing spree at a Kabul maternity ward, leaving their twin daughters motherless. He had just left the maternity ward after his wife gave birth to their daughter, Maryam, when he received a call that the facility was under attack. "Nobody would believe somebody would attack such a place and massacre mothers who are giving birth," he said.He rushed back, hoping to find his wife, frantically calling her mobile phone before hearing the ringtone coming from a nearby body bag."It was the saddest moment of my life," said Muradi.
'It's a daily thing being attacked'
Many officers say they have little faith in the justice system to put criminals behind bars, and end up arresting the same faces time after time. That's even harder to stomach, they say, when the victim is a colleague.
A key demand for protesters is the introduction of a minimum sentence for anyone who attacks the police.
Recent deadly attacks on French police
May 2021: Officer Éric Masson shot dead in anti-drugs raid in Avignon
April 2021: Police employee Stéphanie Monfermé stabbed to death in what prosecutors described as Islamist terrorist attack
December 2020:in central France
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October 2019: Police computer operator stabbed four colleagues to death at Paris police headquarters, before being shot dead. Anti-terror prosecutors said
In fact, there are far fewer police deaths now than there were in the 1980s. But what is new, says Loïc Walder, spokesman for the Unsa police union, is a more general low-level aggression.
"Today, it's not [just] about being killed, it's more that it's a daily thing to be attacked," he told me. "Every night there are police handling some riot situation. That was not happening a few years ago. Now, if you go on patrol as a police officer, you know you're going to be attacked."
Gaudon says that 18 police officers are injured every day during neighbourhood patrols, ID checks or traffic controls. The number is rising, he says, and the offenders are getting younger.
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© Martin Ouellet-Diott, AFP Quebec Prime Minister François Legault at a press conference in Laval, Canada, the April 21, 2019. A bill to preserve the use of the French language has been tabled Thursday by the Quebec government. Its use has been in free fall for about ten years in the Francophone province. A phenomenon, which, for the government, affects "survival" and "development" of the "Nation" Quebec.
But the sense of a police force under attack has appeared alongside a toughening of police tactics and more physical protection over the past decade.
"When you worked with police officers 20 years ago, no-one said he was afraid," says sociologist Christian Mouhanna. "The idea was to be very male, very strong. No-one wore a bullet-proof vest. Now they're all wearing them, and they're very afraid of being killed."
At the same time, says Mr Mouhanna, community policing has gradually been replaced by a focus on crime statistics and control.
"We had good policing of demonstrations and bad policing in the banlieue [suburbs]," he told me. "You might think good [practices] would take over from bad, but actually the reverse happened. The riot police began to take on more aggressive habits, and the policing model used inside the banlieue was brought into the centre of French cities."
Challenged by the yellow-vests
Mr Mouhanna believes the change was exacerbated after the terrorist attacks in 2015 when police were mentally focused on counter-terrorism, and it was especially shocking for those who came from small towns across France to join the spontaneous gilets jaunes protests in 2018.
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"It was very strange for people from the lower-middle class, who were not from ethnic minorities," he explained. "They thought the police were with them, and they were very upset to be confronted with an aggressive police force."
Fabien Jobard, author of Politiques du désordre (Politics of Disorder), said police and intelligence services had been taken by surprise by the yellow-vest protests.
"If there's one institution that doesn't like to be surprised, it's the police," he said. "My conviction is that the way the movement was treated by the police, revived and maintained it; it became a movement against police violence."
But police representatives reject accusations that hardening tactics have damaged their public image.
"When you hear that in two years of gilets jaunes protests the police created a divorce in society, it's a bit too easy," said Stanislas Gaudon from the Alliance police union.
"When we look at how many weapons we seized [from demonstrators], it's clear that a lot of people didn't really come to protest, but to kill cops."
Shocking cases of police brutality
Others say it's not just police tactics that are the problem, but the behaviour of individual officers.
Last November, a security camera captured images of white police officers beating black music producer Michel Zecler inside his Paris studio. Three officers are now facing charges of racially aggravated violence.
Rosie told police she was a victim of domestic violence. She was the one arrested
When Rosie Cooney was arrested for domestic violence assault and trespass, the 22-year-old student explained to the police officer that he got it all wrong; she was the victim, not the perpetrator.She told the operator her boyfriend was still in the house but in a different room, and that he had been physically violent.
Five years ago there were two other big cases: the arrest of 22-year-old Théo Luhaka, who was left permanently disabled when his sphincter was ruptured by a police baton; and that of Adama Traoré, 24, whose death in custody after a simply identity check triggered widespread protests.
Despite anger over police tactics, behaviour and a perceived culture of impunity, a recent poll suggested that almost 70% of the French population trust the police, only slightly lower than in the UK.
Voters also report growing concerns over lawlessness and insecurity in France.
Macron's political problem over security
President Emmanuel Macron has promised to recruit an extra 10,000 officers, and his government has brought in a controversial new security law, giving more power to private security firms and criminalising the identification of police officers taking part in an operation with the intent to harm them.
But, a year away from presidential elections here, polls suggest that on security issues voters trust far-right leader Marine Le Pen much more than President Macron.
She's also seen as having strong support within the police.
One reason, perhaps, why Mr Macron's hard-line Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, will be joining the police outside parliament today. And also why he won't be alone: Marine Le Pen's deputy, Jordan Bardella, has also said he's joining the protest.
When it comes to the politics of security, neither man is afraid of a tough approach, whether the goal is fewer crimes or more votes.
The child victims of the UK’s EncroChat house raids .
When police swooped on homes around the UK last year after hacking the mobile app, children were the collateral damage.One of the men yelled at her to place her hands above the blanket, but she was frozen in fear. She screamed as he ripped the duvet from her. The men began to tear her bedroom apart.