Paris, Sep 24 (EFE).- The fight against the crack epidemic in Paris has clouded the atmosphere of the romantic French capital, usually famous for its delicate bakery, butter croissants and the Eiffel tower.
But with a prominent drug addiction problem, more and more so-called “shooting galleries” are opening across the city, infuriating residents who associate them with an increase in crime in their neighborhoods.
The battle against crack is not new in Paris, but it has taken a new dimension since City Council announced the opening of four new places where addicts can buy and inject illegal drugs.
The controversial move, protested by many Parisians, was approved by French President Emmanuel Macron and supported by the central government and NGOs, who say it is the best option to curb addiction.
While these establishments are common in neighboring countries including Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany, there had only been two centers in France to date.
“Some people think drugs should only be banned and fought and not controlled as is done in these rooms,” Caroline Janvier, deputy of Macron’s En Marche party, told Efe.
But residents of Paris’ eastern and northern districts, where users of crack – a cheaper and more addictive derivative of cocaine – are more common, aren’t happy with the government’s strategy.
“For these people the drug is their religion, they do everything to get it,” said Tarak Sassi, who lives just streets away from Rue Riquet in the 18th arrondissement, the heart of crack users.
“There I was assaulted with a gun and there they killed a young disabled man. I can’t take it anymore, they have turned us into the dumping ground of Paris,” he added.
Sassi, a member of the Paris Anti-Crack collective, leads a march to protest drugs every Wednesday near Rue Riquet, where hundreds of addicts took drugs in middle of the street after being expelled from a park.