30,000 protest over Moroccan's death

FROM TONY BARBER

in Paris

France's presidential election campaign turned into a day of mourning and protest yesterday as tens of thousands of people gathered at the bridge in central Paris from which skinheads threw a Moroccan immigrant to his death on Monday.

Chants of "National Front - assassins" and "No to racism" rose up from the crowd, probably the largest of the campaign so far, as up to 30,000 demonstrators filled the Pont du Carrousel and streets on both banks of the Seine, and spilled into the graceful open spaces outside the Louvre.

Earlier in the day, in a poignant gesture just days before he retires from office, President Franois Mitterrand cast a bouquet of flowers into the Seine and observed a minute's silence at the spot where Brahim Bouarram, 29, was attacked and killed during a National Front march on May Day.

It was one of Mr Mitterrand's few public appearances of the campaign and won applause from Parisians stunned that such a brutal racist murder could take place just a minute's walk from some of France's grandest cultural monuments.

Bouarram's death united the mainstream political left and right in condemning assaults on ethnic minorities, and caused Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin, the Gaullist and Socialist candidates, to play down their efforts to pick up the 15 per cent of the vote that went in the 23 April first round to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front leader.

"The struggle against racism must transcend political parties," said a statement issued from the office of the Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, a pro-Chirac right-winger whose anti-immigration laws the left has linked to racist incidents across France.

The Paris police launched raids on skinhead groups at dawn yesterday, detaining up to 29 people for questioning. Police sources said detectives had already interviewed four witnesses to Bouarram's death, all of whom had seen 10 skinheads break off from the march through central Paris that Mr Le Pen had organised last Monday.

Three of the skinheads, dressed in shiny bomber jackets, were seen making their way to the Quai du Louvre, which adjoins the Pont du Carrousel.

According to the witnesses, one of this trio then seized Bouarram and forced him into the river, where he drowned.

The account of the murder suggested that the skinheads might have known in advance that the Moroccan was often to be found along this stretch of the Seine.

Mr Le Pen has denied any National Front involvement in the murder, saying on Monday night that "this sort of thing can always happen in an urban area of 10 million people".

He suggested Communists disguised as skinheads might have been responsible, a theory shared by virtually no one else.

Unknown until his death, Bouarram, it emerged yesterday, had a wife and two children who live in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, according to a Paris student who knew him well.

His girlfriend, Alice, was quoted in Libration as saying that Bouarram had been unemployed and had just tried to renew his French resident's permit.

"Brahim didn't feel cut out for business and money. He chose to live in the streets four years ago. He used to say there was too much violence and hatred, and he used to talk a lot about the rise of racism. He was getting more and more afraid," his 19-year-old girlfriend said.

Born in southern Morocco in 1965 into a merchant's family, Bouarram arrived in France when he was eight. His uncle and nephew run a grocery in the Paris district of Les Halles.

Bouarram's girlfriend said she had met him before Christmas when the young man, then homeless, entered a caf where she was waitressing and asked for food.

The couple quickly warmed to each other and developed a routine of meeting on the banks of the Seine. It was there that Alice had arranged to meet him on Monday afternoon, but he failed to show up. The next morning, she saw newspaper headlines proclaiming that a group of skinheads had killed Bouarram.

"Brahim was a pacifist. Love was the only thing he believed in. He was incapable of harming a fly," she said.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering