His death set working-class neighborhoods ablaze and focused attention on the France. Who was Nahel M., the 17-year-old boy killed by a policeman during a check? Buried Saturday, July 1 at the cemetery of Mont-Valérien, this young man fan of rap and motorcycle was raised alone by his mother in Nanterre, west of Paris.
Those who knew him describe a "quiet guy", sometimes "borderline", with an existence similar to that of many other young people in the city, between resourcefulness and small clashes with the law.
Nahel lived in a block of a building in the Pablo-Picasso city, at the foot of the business district of La Défense. This is where the first disturbances broke out on Tuesday, June 27, shortly after the shooting of a police officer that was fatal to him, during a traffic stop while he was driving a rental car.
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Devastated, his mother Mounia described the young man as her "best friend". "That was it for me," said the woman, who expressed her "revolt" while refusing to cast aspersions on the entire police force. "I don't blame the police, I blame one person: the one who took my son's life."
The young man, who was also very close to his maternal grandmother, worked as a delivery man, according to his family's lawyer. He had also begun an "integration journey" in the association Ovale Citoyen, which accompanies young people through sport and had established a partnership with the Nanterre rugby club.
"The typical example of the neighborhood kid"
Nahel M.'s criminal record was clean but he had had some trouble with the law for refusing to comply, according to the Nanterre prosecutor, according to which he was to appear before the juvenile court in September. According to the authorities, it was his dangerous driving on Tuesday that had justified the police check that was fatal.
"Nahel, he was a quiet guy. He committed crimes, okay, but in what world is that a reason to kill him?" said Saliha, 65, a resident of her neighborhood.
"For me, Nahel was the typical example of the neighborhood kid, out of school, sometimes borderline but not a highwayman, and who had the will to get by," testified Jeff Puech, the president of Ovale Citoyen, in the columns of the daily Sud-Ouest. "He was going to build a new future," the association said on Twitter.
"Our son to all"
During a white march Thursday in his memory, his first name served as a rallying cry to thousands of people who saw in his destiny shattered the symbol of the unfair treatment reserved according to them by the French police to young people from North African immigration or black Africa.
"Nahel is the son of us all," other protesters said at the tribute, which turned violent.
A month ago, Nahel had realized the dream of many young people: he had appeared as an extra in a clip shot in Nanterre by Jul, star of French rap. We see him perform, with his fingers, the rallying gesture of the fans of the Marseille rapper.
Like athletes and other rappers, Jul shared on social networks the call to help Nahel's family financially, in memory of the "little brother".
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