Cars, businesses, and residences across France have been targeted by violent rioters in recent days and the costs associated with this widespread destruction have reportedly topped the $1 billion mark.
A business organization called Medef arrived at the estimate in a recent report and its president, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux went on to describe the cultural toll that the ongoing protests are having on the country.
“The videos of the riots that circulated around the world hurt the image of France,” he said. “It’s always difficult to say if the impact will be long-lasting, but there will certainly be a drop in reservations this summer, although the season had seemed promising. Many have already been canceled.”
The estimated cost included the hundreds of businesses and banks that have been looted during the riots, but it did not reflect the private homes, churches, and other locations that have also been attacked.
Law enforcement officers have been out in force attempting to restore order. Even after thousands of arrests, however, the unrest appeared unabated more than a week after police shot a 17-year-old immigrant, which sparked the latest riots.
French officials have attempted to reassure those impacted by the protests that the government will be there to provide assistance.
“If your store has been burned to the ground and a life’s work has been reduced to ashes, the state must be by your side,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. “We’ll do everything necessary so that economic activity can calmly pick up again in our country as quickly as possible.”
In many cases, however, the impact of these riots has gone far beyond the monetary realm. For example, the wife and two children of a mayor near Paris were attacked in their home by rioters last week.
The woman broke her leg trying to escape and one of the children was also injured. Prosecutors say they are investigating the incident as an attempted assassination.
French President Emmanuel Macron has received backlash for his suggestion that social media access, which has allowed footage of the destruction to be shared across the country and around the world, should potentially be limited by the government.
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“When things get out of hand, perhaps you have to put yourself in a position to regulate or cut them,” he said.