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Christian Estrosi (Valéry Hache - AFP)

Mayor of Nice prohibits foreign flags in his town

By Etienne Bennequin

Christian Estrosi, the right wing mayor of Nice, enacted on Monday a municipal ordinance prohibiting “the conspicuous use of foreign flags“ during the World Cup, thus contributing to the violent debates that were initiated by the french far right after Algeria’s win against Russia and the following successive outbreaks in a number of main cities.

“We are unfortunately faced with intolerable behaviours that have affected public tranquillity since the beginning of the World Cup, justified the municipality in a statement. We cannot tolerate these disruptions!". As many as seventy-four people were arrested throughout France after Algeria’s qualification for the knockout stage, however, no violence occured in Nice.

The legality of the law is questionned. Mayors do have the authority to enact decrees in order to prevent public order offenses. The 1933 Benjamin’s bill states that there must be a threat against public order that legitimates a freedom-reducing law, and that the edict has to be relevant and proportionate to the situation. So in order to maintain this bill, Mr. Estrosi shall justify that standing with a flag increases the tendency to disturb public order, and that the flag of a foreign country is more dangerous than a French flag, and that the distinction between the two is not a violation to the principle of equality.

If this decree is validated, it would be a huge precedent two years before the Euro 2016  which will count Nice as one of its host cities. There will be many foreign supporters with their country's flag in the streets.


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