France: Officers Ordered to Restrain Policing During Ramadan as Firemen Fight Blazes in ‘Sensitive’ Zone

TOPSHOT - Firefighters work to put out a fire as cars burn in the Le Breil neighborhood of

A mob of up to 40 young people attacked firefighters in a ‘sensitive’ neighbourhood in Brest, France. While police were on the scene to continuously assess safety, officers were allegedly ordered to restrain policing due to Ramadan and the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

The incident took place on Thursday evening in the Pontanezen area of the city — considered a “sensitive urban zone” or ZUS, which are high-priority areas for policing and urban policy — and saw firefighters lured to the neighbourhood after reports that a vehicle had been set on fire.

According to a report from Ouest-France, another car was later set on fire nearby the first incident, and while tackling the blazes, firefighters were attacked with mortar fireworks. Youths also banged on their firetrucks to intimidate them. No direct clashes occurred, and responders were able to extinguish the two fires.

The regional French newspaper claimed that while police officers were also at the scene, they did not intervene, and no arrests were made.

Ouest-France alleged that a memo from that the Departmental Directorate of the National Police (DDSP 29) ordered officers to potentially restrain law enforcement interventions, with the note reportedly telling police “not to intervene for reasons related to a festive attitude, noise, gathering of people, [or] fireworks” due to Ramadan and the ongoing conflict in Israel.

However, “in the event of urban violence requiring the deployment of firefighters on the scene”, police should carry out preliminary patrols and remain in view to continually assess the situation, as officers reportedly had done in Brest, with the newspaper noting during the initial patrol, it had also come under mortar firework assault.

French police have also been told to bend Wuhan coronavirus curfew rules during Ramadan in some areas of the country this year, such as in the department of Tarn, where a memo told officers to not hand out warnings or fines after the 7 pm curfew.

Last year, a leaked memo similar to the alleged memo in Brest was reported in the northern department of Calvados.

The memo instructed police to only intervene in serious crimes in Muslim areas during the Islamic holy period to “prevent a breach of the confinement rules from degenerating and causing a greater disturbance of urban violence”. The memo also came from the Departmental Directorate of Public Security (DDSP).

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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