Clashes Erupt In Paris As Yellow Vest Protests Enter 10th Week


The protests wreaked some of the worst violence seen in decades in Paris.

Paris: 

Scuffles broke out on Saturday as around 7,000 “yellow vest” demonstrators marched through Paris in a 10th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

The demonstrations were largely peaceful but Reuters Television reporters said they saw clashes break out late in the afternoon between police and demonstrators, some wearing masks, in Paris’ Invalides district.

Protesters threw firecrackers, bottles and stones at the police who responded with water canon and tear gas to push them back.

Officials said there were around 7,000 demonstrators in Paris and 27,000 across France.

A Reuters reporter also said there had been clashes in the southern port city of Marseille, while similar demonstrations took place in other cities across France.

“Macron, resign!” some of the protesters shouted.

Some also carried mock coffins symbolising the 10 people who have died during the protests, mainly due to accidents when demonstrators blocked roads.

The “yellow vest” protests – which make use of fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars – began in November over higher fuel taxes.

Those fuel taxes were subsequently scrapped, yet the movement has morphed into a broader anti-Macron protest.

December’s demonstrations wreaked some of the worst violence seen in decades in Paris, as rioters burned cars and damaged shops and businesses.

Protests this month have not witnessed the same level of trouble, although video of a former French boxing champion punching and kicking police in Paris shocked many.

Macron has launched a series of national debates to help quell public discontent and restore his standing.

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Emmanuel Macron Pens 2,300-Word Letter To Quell “Yellow Vest” Unrest


Emmanuel Macron’s initiative comes nine weeks after protests by the “yellow vests”.

PARIS: 

President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday kicked off a three-month national debate he hopes can quell the “yellow vest” unrest with a letter to the French in which he pledged to listen to new ideas but stuck to his core economic reform agenda.

Macron’s initiative comes after nine weeks of protests by the “yellow vests” — named after the high-visibility jackets they wear. The disparate anti-government uprising has wreaked havoc in Paris and French cities, shaken the economy and challenged his authority.

“For me, there is no banned issue. We won’t agree on everything, which is normal in a democracy. But at least we’ll show we’re a people which is not afraid of talking, exchanging, debating,” Macron wrote in the letter published by his office.

But Macron said he would remain faithful to his campaign manifesto, and appeared to rule out rolling back some of the pro-business economic reforms, such as scrapping a wealth tax, which have earned him the nickname “president of the rich”.

“When taxes are too high, our economy is starved of the resources that could be usefully invested in companies, creating jobs and growth,” Macron wrote.

“We will not undo the measures we have introduced to put this right, encourage investment and ensure that work pays more.”

In the 2,330-word letter, to be published in French newspapers, he also asked a series of questions he hoped the French will answer in town hall meetings across the country or in online questionnaires.

Below are some of the questions Macron asked:

– Which taxes do you think we should cut?

– What kind of public spending savings do you think we should make a priority?

– Are there too many administrative layers?

– Should we use referendums more often and who should be able to trigger them?

Macron said proposals made during the debate will help build a new “contract for the nation” and influence government policy-making and France’s stance on European and international issues.

He said he would give his own conclusions within a month of the end of the debate on March 15, but did not mention a possible referendum on his policies, an idea floated privately by some in his administration.

“This is how I intend to turn anger into solutions,” he said.

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France’s Yellow Vests Mobilise For Fresh Round Of Protests


Masked demonstrators stand amid smoke of teargas canisters launched by anti-riot police.

Paris, France: 

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators marched in cities across France on Saturday in a new round of “yellow vest” protests against President Emmanuel Macron, accused of ignoring the plight of millions of people struggling to make ends meet.

Officials have vowed zero tolerance for the violence that has marred the weekly protests since they began two months ago, deploying some 80,000 security forces nationwide.

In Paris, epicentre of the fiery street clashes and vandalism that have made global headlines, 5,000 riot police were on hand, using tall barricades and armoured vehicles to lock down the central Place de la Concorde and surrounding districts.

Hundreds of officers were also on guard on the Champs-Elysees, where banks, jewellery stores and other shops had boarded up windows in anticipation of renewed looting and violence.

Yet many cafes and retailers on the iconic avenue remained open for business, as several thousands of protesters marched calmly from the Place de la Bastille toward the Arc de Triomphe early in the afternoon.

Many sang the “Marseillaise” national anthem, while others held signs saying “Insecurity is not a job!”

At times the crowd yelled “Free Christophe!” in reference to Christophe Dettinger, the former professional boxer arrested last week after being filmed bashing two police officers during the Paris demos.

Police said some 30 people had been detained in the capital earlier for carrying weapons or other charges.

“We’ve come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves at least once what’s going on here,” said Patrick, 37, who told AFP he had travelled from the Savoie region of western France.

‘Macron resign!’

In the well-heeled racehorsing town of Chantilly just north of Paris, 1,000 or so protesters marched through the centre before descending on the hippodrome where they delayed the start of a race, local media said.

And another 1,200 protesters gathered in the central city of Bourges, where some yellow-vest organisers were hoping to those from areas far from the capital.

Signs said “Macron resign!” and “France is angry,” while local prosecutor Joel Garrigue said five people had been detained after police discovered a cache of ball bearings during a search of their car.

The protests also spilt over the border into eastern Belgium late on Friday, where one of around 25 protesters manning a blockade died after being hit by a truck, Belgian media reported.

Mutual mistrust

Officials had warned of bigger and more violent protests than last week, when demonstrators rammed a forklift truck through the main doors of a government ministry in Paris.

“Those who are calling to demonstrate tomorrow know there will be violence, and therefore they are in part responsible,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a Facebook interview Friday with Brut, a digital news site favoured by many yellow vests.

But many yellow vests pointed to images of a police officer repeatedly striking an unarmed man on the ground during a protest last week in Toulon, accusing the police of excessive use of force.

The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of Macron and his policies, which are seen favouring the wealthy at the expense of rural and small-town France.

Politicians inspire ‘distrust, disgust’

Macron has called for a national debate starting next week to hear voters’ grievances, hoping to sate demands for more of a say in national law-making and tamp down the protesters’ anger.

He has already unveiled a 10-billion-euro ($11.5 billion) financial relief package for low earners, and axed the planned fuel tax hike.

But the public consultations risk being hobbled by record levels of distrust towards politicians and representatives of the state.

A poll by the Cevipof political sciences institute released Friday showed 77 percent of respondents thought politicians inspired “distrust”, “disgust” or “boredom”.

And Macron may not have done himself any favours on Friday, when he told a gathering at the Elysee Palace that “too many of our citizens think they can get something without making the necessary effort.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Yellow Vest Protesters Attack French Ministry, Clash With Police In Several Cities


Yellow vest protests have turned into biggest political crisis of Macron presidency.

Paris: 

“Yellow vest” protesters returned in force to the streets of France this weekend, clashing with police in several cities and smashing their way into a government ministry in Paris with the help of a forklift truck.

The interior ministry put the number of protesters who took to the streets on Saturday at 50,000, compared with 32,000 on December 29 when the movement appeared to be weakening after holding a series of weekly Saturday protests since mid-November.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, who was evacuated from his ministry in central Paris when a handful of protesters in high-visibility vests smashed down the large wooden door to the ministry compound, denounced the break-in as an “unacceptable attack on the Republic”.

“Some yellow vest protesters and other people dressed in black … got hold of a construction vehicle which was in the street nearby and smashed open the entrance gate to the ministry,” he told AFP.
They briefly entered the courtyard where they smashed up two cars, broke some windows then escaped, he added, saying police were trying to identify them from security footage.

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President Emmanuel Macron did not specifically refer to the incident, but tweeted his condemnation of the “extreme violence” against “the Republic, its guardians, its representatives and its symbols”.
Griveaux had on Friday criticised the yellow vest movement, describing those still involved as “agitators” who were seeking “to overthrow the government”.

Police said some 3,500 demonstrators turned up on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday morning.

Some then made their way south of the river to the wealthy area around Boulevard St Germain, where they set light to a car and several motorbikes and set up burning barricades, prompting police to fire tear gas to try and disperse them.

Police said 35 people were arrested.

Demonstrators took to the streets of several other cities across France, with up to 2,000 people in Rouen northwest of Paris, where some set up burning barricades. One protester was injured and at least two others were arrested, police said.

Some 4,600 protesters hit the streets of the southwestern city of Bordeaux, with some hurling stones at police who answered with tear gas and water cannon.

Five police were hurt and 11 people arrested, local authorities said, adding that several cars were torched and shop windows broken. Further south in Toulouse, 22 people were detained following clashes that erupted after 2,000 people turned out to demonstrate.

And in the central-eastern city of Lyon, several thousands took to the streets, blocking access to the A7 motorway and causing traffic jams for those returning from Christmas holidays in the mountains.

The yellow vest movement began in rural France over plans to increase fuel taxes.

But it later ballooned into a wider revolt against Macron’s pro-market policies and governing style, with 282,000 people joining the first Saturday rally on November 17.

Macron initially refused to make any concessions, but in mid-December, after weeks of violence, he scrapped the planned fuel tax hike and promised extra cash for minimum wage earners as well as tax cuts for pensioners.

The protests have turned into the biggest political crisis of Macron’s 20-month presidency and brought his popularity ratings to an all-time low.

Although public anger appeared to abate following his concessions and over the holiday period, the brief arrest on Wednesday of Eric Drouet, one of the leaders of the movement, appeared to rekindle resentment among his supporters.

The latest opinion poll, published on Thursday by Odoxa Dentsu, indicated 55 percent support the protests — a figure which, although lower than the 75 percent back in November, is still important enough to suggest the anti-austerity movement retains political clout.

Former cinema icon Brigitte Bardot, who is known today for her rightwing views and animal rights activism, on Sunday said she understood what motivated the yellow vest movement.

“When I see the millions spent on incredibly trivial things, when I see politicians using private planes and chauffeur-driven cars to get around (…) all this money spent is unacceptable,” she told the Midi Libre newspaper.

“It should be given instead to people in need.”

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Clashes, Teargas As France’s Yellow Vest Protesters Return To Streets


The protests have caused the biggest political crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s 20-month presidency. (File)

Paris: 

France’s “yellow vest” protesters were back on the streets again Saturday as a government spokesman denounced those still protesting as hard-liners who wanted only to bring down the government.

Around a thousand protesters gathered on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris, where around 15 police wagons were also deployed, an AFP journalist said.

Some paused outside the headquarters of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in central Paris to hurl anti-media insults.

Police fired tear gas in the capital after protesters threw projectiles at police and AFP journalists saw minor scuffles near the River Seine as up to 4,000 joined the fray in the city by the afternoon, according to police.

Some protesters set bins ablaze and material damage included several burned out motorcycles strewn across streets.

“I am here to defend the right of my children to work that enables them to eat. My daughter earns 800 euros ($911) a month. She works 25 hours a week in a baker’s. For her, it’s about surviving,” said one protester, 58-year-old Ghislaine.

Several other cities across France also saw small marches — including up to 2,000 in Rouen northwest of Paris, where at least two arrests were made and one protester was hurt by a projectile after demonstrators set fire to a barricade.

The scale and intensity of the protests has shrivelled in recent weeks, however, and authorities put Saturday’s nationwide turnout at around 12,000, compared with 282,000 for the initial rally on November 17.

Public anger has on occasion been directed at the media, seen by some as too close to the government. Several journalists have been assaulted since the protests called by the grass-roots movement started in November.

Last Saturday saw scuffles in Paris between some demonstrators denouncing media “collaborators” and police outside the headquarters of broadcasters BFMTV and France Televisions.

Police made four arrests Friday evening in the northeastern city of Nancy after some 50 demonstrators tried to block the entrance of newspaper L’Est Republicain.

On Friday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux denounced those still protesting as “agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government”.

The midweek Paris arrest of Eric Drouet, one the movement’s spokesman, sparked anger among his supporters. Drouet already faces trial for carrying a weapon at a previous demonstration.

The latest opinion poll, published on Thursday by Odoxa Dentsu, indicated 55 percent public support for the “yellow vest” protests.

The government has deployed police around France to deal with the protests, backed up by specialist response units, sources told AFP.

The “yellow vest” demonstrations — named after the high-visibility jackets worn by the protesters — began in rural France over increased fuel taxes.

The movement ballooned into a wider revolt against President Emmanuel Macron‘s pro-market policies and governing style.

Macron initially refused to make any concessions, but in mid-December, after weeks of violence, he scrapped the planned fuel tax rises and promised extra cash for minimum wage earners and tax cuts for pensioners.

The protests have caused the biggest political crisis of his 20-month presidency.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Police Teargas ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters In Paris


Gendarmes spray tear gas at protesters on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris.

Paris, France: 

Police fired tear gas at “yellow vest” demonstrators in Paris on Saturday but the turnout for round seven of the popular protests that have rocked France appeared low.

Several hundred people wearing the symbolic hi-visibility vests had gathered near the offices of several state-run television stations and the BFM TV channel in the centre of the capital shouting “Fake news” and calling for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.

Protesters spilled onto tram lines and lobbed projectiles at police who replied with tear gas grenades and detained several people.

Several cars were also set alight outside the offices of the Le Parisien newspaper, although a fire service spokesman said it was not clear if the blaze was linked to the protests.

Tear gas was also fired in Nantes, western France, and protests were expected in Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse.

In the southern city of Marseille, police said around 1,000 protesters turned out, amid cries of “Macron out”.

The official turnout numbers have plunged with the passing weeks, with police saying some 12,000 had joined Saturday’s rally by midday. The government recorded 38,600 demonstrators on December 22 compared to 282,000 for the first major demonstrations on November 17.

But leading figures within the movement that has flourished outside of trade union and political groups, say the low numbers are due to the holiday season and January will bring a resurgence of the street protests.

The focus of the protests has morphed from anger over fuel taxes to a broad rebuke of Macron, accused by critics of neglecting the rising costs of living for many in rural and small-town France.

“We want to get our purchasing power back and have a say in the decisions,” said Priscillia Ludosky, who launched the yellow vest petition against fuel price hikes.

Government tax concessions to boost disposable income among the low paid “are not enough”, Ludosky said in Marseille.

The movement has increasingly targeted Macron and 40 “yellow vests” on Thursday tried to storm the medieval fort of Bregancon that serves as his official summer retreat on the Mediterranean before being turned back by police.

Die-hard yellow vest supporters believe the movement will live on in 2019 and plans are underway for New Year’s Eve protests.

Nearly 8,000 people are listed on Facebook as intending to attend, insisting it will be “festive and non-violent”.

Paris officials said preparations would continue for a fireworks display and sound and light show on the Champs-Elysee, the epicentre of repeated violent action against the government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on December 1.

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard, which rises to the Arc monument.

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“Yellow Vest” Protesters Target Emmanuel Macron’s Holiday Hideaway


“Yellow vest” protestors tried to storm a medieval fort that serves as President Macron’s summer retreat.

Nice: 

If Emmanuel Macron is hoping for some holiday respite from the anti-government protests which have rocked France, he might want to avoid the presidential retreat along the Mediterranean coast.

Around 40 “yellow vest” demonstrators on Thursday tried to storm the medieval fort of Bregancon that serves as Macron’s summer retreat before being turned back by police, the mayor of nearby Bormes-les-Mimosas, Francois Arizzi, told AFP on Friday.

“It’s madness. For people who want more democracy, they should start by respecting other people’s property,” Arizzi said, saying many of the protesters had tried to infiltrate the fort by crossing private land.

He added that some of the protesters had indicated they would try again on Friday.

The yellow vest movement has morphed from anger over fuel taxes to a broad rebuke of Macron, whom critics accuse of neglecting the rising costs of living for many in rural and small-town France.

Bregancon generated some unwanted headlines last summer when it emerged Macron was installing a 34,000 euro ($39,000) swimming pool at the fort, which already has its own private beach.

In theory the site is currently unoccupied, though the presidency has refused to disclose where Macron and his wife Brigitte are spending the holidays.

Press reports have said the president cancelled a planned Christmas skiing trip, possibly at his longtime destination of La Mongie in the Pyrenees, not far from where his grandmother lived while he was growing up.

In Paris, where yellow vest protests have repeatedly descended into clashes with police in recent weeks, further demonstrations are planned on Saturday and New Year’s Eve.

Paris officials have decided to move ahead with the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the Champs-Elysees avenue — which usually attracts tens of thousands of people — despite the planned protest. 

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France’s Yellow Vest Protests Target Borders Ahead Of Christmas


A protester taking part in the Yellow Vest protests dresses up as Santa Claus (AFP)

Paris: 

Three days from Christmas, fewer French “yellow vests” turned out for a sixth Saturday of protests, targeting border points as a fatal road accident brought the death toll to 10 since the movement began last month.

A total of 38,600 people took part in protests across the country, well down from the 66,000 by the same time the previous Saturday, the interior ministry said. There were 220 people detained nationwide, 81 of whom were taken into police custody, it added.

The number of demonstrators has been trending downwards since 282,000 people turned out for the first Saturday protest against planned fuel tax hikes on November 17.

The movement, characterised by the high-visibility yellow vests worn by the protesters, then morphed into a widespread demonstration against Macron’s policies and style of governing.

Health minister Agnes Buzyn told Le Journal du Dimanche (The Sunday Newspaper) Macron’s government was “in step with the demands of the yellow vests” as she called for “a more constructive dialogue”.

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Yellow Vest protests have morphed into a widespread demonstration against Macron’s policies and style of governing

Prime minister Edouard Philippe told the same newspaper his relationship with Macron has only “intensified” during the crisis, rather than become strained, as has been reported.

“We talk a lot. We tell each other things,” he said.

Leader in custody

Yesterday’s numbers were a sharp drop from last week, when Macron, a pro-business centrist, gave in to some of the movement’s demands.

In Paris, the scene of fierce clashes during previous demonstrations, around 2,000 protesters joined rallies scattered around the city compared with 4,000 last week, police said.

As evening fell, violence broke out on the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue, where many shops had remained open for business in the busy weekend before Christmas.

Paris police said 142 people were detained and 19 taken into police custody in the French capital, including a “yellow vest” leader, Eric Drouet.

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The number of protesters across France dropped to 38,600 from 66,000 last Saturday (AFP)

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux tweeted that behind the violence was “a single face, cowardly, racist, anti-Semitic, putschist”.

He denounced the decapitation of an effigy of Macron, violent attacks on police after an officer’s motorcycle was taken by protesters on the Champs-Elysee, and that outside the Sacre Coeur church some had sung a song by comedian and political activist Dieudonne, who has been convicted for anti-Semitic insults.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner meanwhile said there had been a “real slowdown”, but some people “continue to come and protest, driven by hatred of institutions”.

Journalists attacked

Near the border between France and Spain hundreds of protesters disrupted traffic as they gathered around an autoroute toll booth.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the “yellow vests” who retreated to a bridge, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

France borders the Catalan region of Spain, and the protesters were joined by dozens of Catalan pro-independence activists, also wearing yellow vests.

The separatists often block highways to protest against Madrid’s rejection of Catalonia’s independence referendum in October 2017.

Even though their goals are different, “this demonstration at the Boulou (toll booth) is symbolic, it shows the solidarity between the Spanish Catalans and the French,” said Marcel, a 49-year-old winegrower.

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Yellow Vest protests have frequently targeted media and journalists (AFP)

Two journalists covering the Boulou rally for France 2 television said they were “violently” attacked by the protesters.

Editor Anne Domy told AFP that she and her colleague Audrey Guiraud were “targeted, chased and beaten by a crowd of protesters that completely surrounded us”.

One “yellow vest” protester helped the two journalists escape in a “hail of insults”, she said.

The media and journalists have been frequent targets of the “yellow vest” movement’s ire.

Roadblocks were also reported near the border with Italy and at a bridge in Strasbourg near the German border.

While the demonstrations were mainly calm compared to the Paris riots earlier in the month, there were concerns about their effect on pre-Christmas sales.

Junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said French stores reported an average drop-off of 25 percent in sales compared with the same period a year earlier.

 Car driver dies at roadblock

A driver died overnight when his car slammed into the back of a truck stopped at a roadblock set up by “yellow vest” protesters at an autoroute entrance in Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast, prosecutor Jean-Jacques Fagni told AFP.

There have now been 10 deaths since the protests began on November 17.

A Facebook event organised by Drouet had listed thousands of people “interested” in joining a demonstration at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris but only around 60 showed up.

Further demonstrations of several hundred “yellow vests” were reported in Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.

On Friday, the French Senate approved measures to help the working poor and pensioners just hours after they were adopted by the lower house of parliament  which aim to quell “yellow vest” anger and should come into force early in 2019.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Few Turn Out For French “Yellow Vest” Protests, Driver Dies At Road Block


There were far fewer “yellow vest” demonstrators in the streets of Paris than in previous weeks.

TOULOUSE/PARIS: 

A man died in southern France on Friday when his car hit a truck at a road block erected by “Yellow Vest” protesters, raising the death toll linked to the anti-government demonstrations to 10, the authorities said on Saturday.

Several demonstrations were expected across France on Saturday, including a march in the formal royal city of Versailles, whose castle is a symbol of French state power and one of Europe’s top tourist attractions.

But very few people gathered in Versailles and there were far fewer demonstrators in the streets of Paris than in previous weeks, according to Reuters witnesses and news channels BFM and CNews.

Dozens marched through the streets of Montmartre near the Sacré Coeur Basilica, another tourist landmark in the French capital, shouted “Parisians, join us!”, according to news channels BFM and CNews. Others called for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.

About 800 people were demonstrating in Paris at around 1100 GMT and there had been no incidents of violence or arrests, police said. This compares to about 4,000 demonstrators at the same time last Saturday.

Three weeks ago the protests in Paris turned into some of the worst unrest seen in the capital since 1968. Cars were set on fire, bank and insurance offices’ windows smashed and street furniture was vandalized.

Of the ten deaths linked to the protests, most have been the result of road accidents. A 36-year-old man died in the accident near Perpignan on Friday evening, which occurred at a roundabout blocked off by protesters, a police source told Reuters.

The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protesters – named after the high-visibility jackets French motorists must carry in their cars – began in mid-November to rally against fuel tax increases and subsequently against the wider liberal economic reform policy of Macron, who made tax and salary concessions earlier this month.

But the movement has gradually lost steam in recent weeks, with just 66,000 people taking part in protests nationwide last Saturday compared to nearly 300,000 on Nov. 17.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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France’s “Yellow Vest” Protests Inspire Copycats, Spark Fakes Abroad


“Yellow Vest” protest has turned into a grassroot protest against high cost of living and the government

Paris: 

The “yellow vest” revolt in France over the high cost of living has sparked copycat protests abroad — as well a swarm of fake reports.

AFP’s fact-checking service sorts the real from the imagined:

Copycat protests

The month-long French demonstrations, which have led to repeated rioting in Paris, have inspired protesters in a number of mostly European countries.

On December 8, some 400 people were detained in Brussels after protesters wearing high-visibility fluorescent vests briefly clashed with police.

Others reportedly blocked a highway linking Brussels to the town of Rekkem in Flanders, near the French border to protest high taxes.

On the same day in the Netherlands, “yellow vests” turned out in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague to protest the high cost of living, but they were few in number and the demonstrations were peaceful.

In Hungary, some of those protesting a new law, which increases the amount of overtime employers can require of workers, also dressed up in yellow vests on December 12 outside parliament.

And in Poland, farmers wearing the distinctive jackets on Wednesday blocked a motorway to demand government compensation for a swine flu outbreak.

In Germany, both Alice Weidel, one of the founders of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, and the radical left-wing Die Linke party have expressed support for the French movement.

And some yellow vests were seen among a 1,000-strong crowd of right-wing demonstrators when the Pegida anti-migrant movement when it held a rally on December 1 in Berlin.

In Belgrade, a handful of opposition members of parliament also donned yellow on December 4 to protest petrol price increases.

In South Africa, where some protesters have been spotted wearing yellow vests during demonstrations against the low quality of public services, the Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) spoke out in favour of the French movement, saying it was a model for future protests.

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The Yellow Vest protests have come to represent a deeply rooted social anger that has more to do with the personality of Emmanuel Macron than it does with any particular policy.

The French movement kicked off on November 17 over higher fuel taxes, but quickly morphed into a nationwide grassroot protest against the high cost of living and the government.

President Emmanuel Macron has since offered tax and wage concessions in a bid to end the protest.

Worried governments

In Egypt, authorities fearing possible protests on the anniversary of the uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, have sought to restrict the sale of yellow vests.

“We received instructions from the police around a week ago to sell yellow vests to companies only, and not to individuals,” one importer said. 

And a human rights lawyer, Mohamed Ramadan, was remanded in custody earlier this month over charges including the distribution and possession of leaflets and yellow vests.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, defended the jailing of an elderly rights activist over calls to protest, stressing he wanted to prevent events like France’s “yellow vest” revolt.

Fake yellow news

But not every sighting of a high-visibility jacket should be seen as political.

Many social media accounts wrongly reported on Monday that German rail workers, who held a one-day strike for higher pay, wore yellow vests in solidarity with the French. 

The vests are mandatory to ensure they are visible when on the railway tracks.

Other reports were pure fakes.

An internet platform, 24jours.com, published a photograph showing 300 motorcyclists in yellow vests purportedly demonstrating in the capital of the Central African Republic against “the French neo-colonial system” and against the local French-linked currency.

The picture was in fact taken in May when motorcyclists in Bangui attended a first aid training clinic.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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