French Riviera locked down for G20 summit

The elegant French resort of Cannes is to be transformed into a fortress for this week's G20 summit, while the nearby city of Nice is to host thousands of anti-globalisation protesters.

French Riviera locked down for G20 summit
Rita Molnár (File)

Preparations have been underway for a year for what is being billed as the biggest international summit ever hosted by France, to be attended by 8,500 delegates and journalists who will clock up 35,000 hotel nights.

Locals have their ideas about which luxury hotel will be hosting the likes of US President Barack Obama — the Carlton? — but officials are tight-lipped about where leaders will stay for security reasons.

Cannes’ famous Croisette seafront will be off limits to anybody except delegates and inhabitants with a security pass, while a section of the town centre has also been cut off to outsiders.

Around 12,000 security forces and police are being brought in from around France, and some schools have even put back the return to class from the mid-term break to after the summit has finished.

A police official said that snipers would be placed on rooftops overlooking the routes taken by the heads of state and government from the world’s 20 biggest economies during the summit on Thursday and Friday.

In Nice, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) down the Mediterranean coast, 2,500 extra police have been drafted in to deal with anti-globalisation protests set for Tuesday that organisers hope will be attended by 10,000.

But anyone thought to be associated with the so-called Black Bloc militant protests faces arrest if police find them anywhere in the region.  

“The worst thing would be for things to go badly and for their message not to be heard,” Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said of NGOs’ hopes that their message would not be overshadowed by violence.

Estrosi said that President Nicolas Sarkozy would host NGO representatives in Paris already on Wednesday.

Events in Nice are being billed as a “people’s summit”, running from the day of the main demonstration on Tuesday to the end of the summit on Friday.

The events are expected to draw large numbers of people particularly from Italy, Germany and Spain.

Besides the police presence, organisers will have one person out for every 100 demonstrators, or around 100 in total.

An abattoir in Nice turned cultural centre will host speeches, a concert and an evening dinner on Tuesday.

On Thursday, some protesters will head to the principality of Monaco to “celebrate” the end of tax havens that had been announced at the 2009 G20 in London.

Franck Gaye, one of the organisers of events in Nice, is hoping to get locals to take part in debates and have handed out flyers to try to reassure fearful shop-owners.  

“There will be no attempt at confrontation at the G20 summit, which is happening somewhere else, on another day,” said Gaye, noting that anarchist movements “have called to go everywhere in France because there won’t be security forces elsewhere.”

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French electrician sues Netflix for labelling him a radical Islamist

A French man of North African origin has accused Netflix of racial discrimination for labelling him a radical Islamist in an action movie for which he was filmed without his knowledge, his lawyer said on Monday.

French electrician sues Netflix for labelling him a radical Islamist
The Netflix movie Sentinelle was set and filmed in Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Sentinelle, set in the southern city of Nice, tells the story of an elite French soldier returning from service in Syria who embarks on a mission to find the man who raped her sister.

One scene shows the protagonist, Klara, looking through the sights of her rifle at two young friends saying goodbye to each other.

The scene was shot on the Promenade des Anglais, the seaside walk where a Tunisian radical mowed down 86 people with a truck on July 14th, 2016.

The French subtitles Netflix provided to describe the scene for the hard of hearing refer to two young “barbus” – a derogatory term for ultraconservative Muslim men that means “the bearded ones”.

One of the men, a 21-year-old electrician from Nice, filed a criminal complaint against Netflix over the description, accusing the company of “provoking discrimination and racial hatred,” his lawyer Jean-Pascal Padovani said.

“The director took the liberty of drawing a line between the North African features of the people he filmed… and religious fundamentalists,” Padovani said.

That the shot was filmed at the scene of one of the worst terror attacks in French history was even more suggestive, he added.

“It’s unacceptable as it suggests that anyone of North African origin is a potential terrorist,” Padovani said.

A spokesperson for Netflix, which was targeted by the complaint as the film’s broadcaster, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by AFP.

It has, however, removed the term “barbus” from the audio description.

Padovani said that his client had received over 80 messages from acquaintances who recognised him in the film, which was shot in 2019 and began streaming on Netflix in March.

Some expressed shock at seeing him depicted as a terrorist, he said.

The complainant is also considering suing Netflix for using his image for commercial purposes without his permission, Padovani said.

Sentinelle was directed by French film-maker Julien Leclercq.