Anyss and the dean. Photo posted on Arbib's Facebook page.

The story of a French university student being sprayed in the face with tear gas and called a "dirty Arab" is all over the French press today, notably in left-wing newspaper Libération. When contacted by FRANCE 24, the student says it was his university dean who prompted him to tell the story.

Anyss Arbib, a politics student of Moroccan descent, says that he was in Porte Maillot, on the outskirts of Paris, after the Egypt vs Algeria match on Wednesday Nov. 18. He says that a police officer asked him what he was looking at, to which he responded "I know my rights, I'm a student at Sciences Po". According to Arbib, the policeman then replied "I don't give a s**t about Sciences Po," and sprayed him with tear gas. When Arbib asked for an explanation, he says a CRS (riot police) officer called him a "dirty Arab".

It was not until a day later however, that Arbib decided to publish his account, after Sciences Po dean, Richard Descoings, encouraged him to do so. The student has yet to press charges however (at the time of going to press, the French police complaints commission (IGS) had received no such complaint).   

Here's an extract of the account Arbib published on his Facebook page.

"The peaceful start to the evening was soon ruined by clashes between certain individuals and the police. We decided to go home. At Porte Maillot, we found ourselves stuck in a massive jam. Paris, no, France, was at war with a people. I saw men on the roadside being hit with batons and humiliated in front of their children. I saw young people jumping around so much that flailing arms did see a few people get hit.

Just before reaching the ring road, I saw a riot officer get his nose broken by a guy in a car with a baton. Why? No apparent reason. The police got mad then and asked us what we were looking at. I said we were just looking at what was happening in front of us. A quick ‘shut your mouth' was supposed to get rid of us, but I replied that there was no need for that kind of language. I was sprayed in the eyes at point-blank range. I couldn't breathe, I thought I was suffocating. It was the first time I'd ever been attacked like that; I'll never forget it.

Disgusted, I asked for an explanation. A riot police officer replied ‘Jog on, you dirty Arab. It might be party time for you today, but even more for us. We can beat you up as much as we want'."

"The dean told me that it was essential to publicise my account"

Contacted by FRANCE 24, Anyss Arbib explains how his story became front page news.

I never expected this story to get so big. The day after the match, I went to uni, where I told the dean (Richard Decoings), what had happened. [Decoings is, incidentally, behind the university's 'student admissions from priority areas' scheme. Under instruction from the French president, he's currently working on a study for the government on secondary school reform]. He told me that I shouldn't allow it to be forgotten and that it was essential to publicise my account.

Like him, I think that this is something worth bringing attention to. It's my duty to raise awareness because I'm at Sciences Po. It needs to be taken into account concerning the national identity debate. That's why I posted a note on Facebook, which itself, through the Web, managed to reach the attention of Libération newspaper, who contacted me for an interview on Sunday."