A Paris court rejected Monday a discrimination case filed by three high school students of Arab and African origin who claimed they were unfairly singled out for a search by police officers during a school outing.
The students — Ilyas, Mamadou and Zakaria — had just returned to the Gare du Nord train station from a trip to Brussels in March 2017 when they were stopped and searched in front their classmates and teacher.
Claiming they were victims of unjustified racial profiling, they filed a discrimination suit.
But the court found that since “their teacher had described all her students as having foreign origins,” there could be no basis for a discrimination claim.
The court also cited France’s state of high alert to terror risks, the prevalence of drug trafficking in the neighbourhood, and the fact that the three were carrying large bags.
The lawyer for the students, all from the heavily immigrant Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, called the ruling “scandalous.”
“It’s at least implicitly making a link between youths from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and drug traffickers,” the lawyer, Slim Ben Achour, said at a press conference.
Youths with African or Arabic origins in the gritty suburbs of low-income housing blocks that ring Paris and other cities have long complained of being targeted by police with random ID checks and searches.
“I’m outraged and shocked,” said Mamadou, now 20 years old, saying the authorities “are avoiding a sad reality which they have refused to see for a long time.”
“We’re not going to give up the fight,” he added, saying the three students planned to appeal.