A fundraiser set up for the family of the police officer charged with the killing of Nahel Merzouk in France has raised more than £1.2m, as courts across the country battle to process cases following the recent riots.
French far-right figure Jean Messiha, who set up the controversial GoFundme, said he is closing the account, which received more than 100,000 donors after it raised more than 1.5 million euros (£1.2 million).
France’s prime minister said the collection for the jailed officer’s family did not contribute to calming the situation, while the justice minister warned against a possible “instrumentalisation” of the issue on France-Inter radio.
Unrest has spread across France following the death of Nahel, 17 who was shot during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre last Tuesday.
Violence was driven by a mainly teenage backlash in the suburbs and urban housing projects against a French state that many young people with immigrant roots say routinely discriminates against them.
Some 2,400 people have been arrested since clashes began and at the peak of the unrest, overnight on 1 July to 2 July, 45,000 police were on the streets with specialised elite units, armoured vehicles and helicopters.
The officer who shot Nahel is in custody facing a charge of voluntary homicide.
French president Emmanuel Macron blamed social media last week for the spread of the unrest and called on parents to take responsibility for their teenagers.
Officials call for tough stance on protesters
It comes as French officials called for a tough stance on those who took part in the riots, as courts continue to process cases.
Justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti reportedly advised prosecutors to systematically seek prison sentences for people charged with physical assault or serious vandalism and told France Inter radio on Monday that he wants a “firm hand”.
Addressing lawmakers in parliament, prime minister Elisabeth Borne said the criminal justice system should ensure that even minor offences committed during the riots were prosecuted.
The head of France’s main employers’ organisation estimated that the cost of repairing the damage caused by the riots would surpass 1bn euros.
Regarding the fundraiser for the police officer, Mr Messiha equated the response to a “tsunami” in support of law enforcement officers “who in a certain way fight daily so that France remains France”.
Mr Messiha, a former official of the National Rally party of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, bragged at one point that his effort was bringing in more funds than a similar crowdfunding account set up for the family of Nahel.
The family filed a complaint, alleging the crowdfunding was based on deception to “criminalise” the victim and win support for the police officer who fired at him, according to France-Info.
It was not immediately clear whether an investigation would be opened.