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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders