Twelve days after the attack, Nouredine Rachedi (30), still bears the marks of the beating he received on the night of 24 July at Guyancourt in Yvelines. He has a swollen eye, scars on his head and is unsteady on his feet.
This French Muslim, who has a diploma in statistics and is a research analyst employed by a customer management company, was on his way home shortly before 1am and took a shortcut through a public park.
According to his statement to the police, two “European type” men, who were not wearing any distinct clothing, called to him from a distance asking for a cigarette. “I only had two. I told them couldn’t give them any.” One of the men then approached him. “He asked me if I was a Muslim”, Rachedi told the police. “I said ‘yes’. He then asked me how long I had lived in France. I replied that I was born in France and have always lived here. After these questions I asked why they wanted to know all this. The second man then came up and said ‘Because we are Nazis’.”
He then asked what the young Muslim thought of “the state of Yugoslavia” (this took place four days after the arrest of former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had been announced). Nouredine Rachedi replied that he didn’t have an opinion on it. At that point the first man struck him on the head. “I fell to the ground and received … many kicks to my body and head.”
He says he protected himself as best as he could by curling up and covering his chest with his hands. “The attack lasted less than a minute. Then I heard one of them say ‘that’s enough, let’s get out of here’.” Rachedi says he got up and called for help, and then received treatment. The forensic medical unit at Versailles gave him 21 days complete rest from work due to bruising, a collapsed lung and wounds to his head that required stitches.
The young man, who’s never suffered violence before, appears very affected. “I can’t stop going over what happened in my mind.” He says he was very frightened but doesn’t want “this racist, anti-Muslim attack to go unpunished”.
After the attack Rachedi, who is a CFDT trade union representative, turned for assistance to the Indigènes de la République, an association of which he has been a member since April. The association put him in contact with two lawyers. “I am convinced that my case is not the only one but others prefer to keep quiet.”
The Versailles prosecution says that “leads” are being followed up. One of the alleged attackers, who is known from similar incidents, has been identified. The criminal classification adopted by the police at the start of the case is that of intentional violence committed by a gang. “The remarks as reported by the victim are clearly racist”, the prosecutor notes, adding that the classification may change based on the results of the investigation.
See also Caroline Vigoureux, “Nouredine Rachedi, ‘tabassé parce que musulman'”, Rue89, 9 August 2008