France protests: Tourist sites to close on Saturday amid Paris riot
[December 07 2018]
The violence of the "gilets jaunes" protests has shocked France
Tourist sites in Paris are to close on Saturday amid
fears of further street violence from "yellow vest" anti-government
Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty
and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister
Edouard Philippe announced.
Police have urged shops and restaurants on Paris's
Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed.
Paris endured some of the worst rioting in decades
The government has said it is scrapping unpopular fuel
tax increases in its budget - the original trigger for the protests.
But broader discontent with the government has spread
and protests have erupted over other issues.
What has the government said?
An official with the interior ministry told AFP news
agency authorities were braced for "significant violence" on Saturday,
with activists from both the far right and far left planning to converge
on the capital.
In an interview with TV channel TF1, Mr Philippe said
8,000 police would be deployed in Paris as well as a dozen armoured
He repeated an appeal for calm but added: "We are
facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to
have the means to not give them a free rein."
Earlier, Mr Philippe suggested further concessions to
protesters, telling the Senate that the government was open to new
measures to help the lowest-paid workers.
How will Paris be affected?
The operator of the Eiffel Tower said the threat of
violent protests on Saturday made it impossible to ensure "adequate
City authorities say they are stepping up protection
for famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week.
Culture Minister Franck Riester said the Louvre and
Orsay museums, opera houses and the Grand Palais complex were among
sites that would be closed.
Police secured the Trocadero place near the Eiffel Tower during last week's demonstrations
"We cannot take the risk when we know the threat," he
told RTL radio.
Police have asked stores and restaurants along the
Champs-Elysees and other major shopping streets to stay closed and to
remove any outdoor items such as tables and chairs.
A series of football matches have also been postponed
on Saturday. They include those between Paris and Montpellier, Monaco
and Nice, Toulouse and Lyon, and Saint-Etienne and Marseille.
What other protests have there been?
On Thursday young people took to the streets,
protesting over education reforms.
More than 140 people were arrested when a protest
outside a school in Mantes-la-Jolie to the west of Paris ended in
clashes with police. Pictures of the arrests, in which the students are
made to kneel and put their hands behind their heads, sparked outrage on
"Now there's a well-behaved class," a police office is
The town's police chief told Le Monde newspaper that
those arrested were suspected of taking part in an "armed gathering",
adding that officers had wanted to break up a situation that was getting
Dozens of other schools were blockaded in cities
including Marseille, Nantes and Paris. Students have been angered by
President Emmanuel Macron's plans to change the end-of-school exam,
known as the baccalaureate, which is required for entrance to
Critics fear the reforms will limit opportunity and
Students at Saint-Exup‚ry high school in Mantes-la-Jolie were detained by police
Who are the protesters?
The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they
have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing
that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, initially
complained at a sharp increase in diesel taxes.
Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was
environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.
The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow
vest protesters were not placated. Last week, the movement - despite a
lack of central leadership - issued more than 40 demands to government.
Among them were a minimum pension, widespread changes
to the tax system, and a reduction in the retirement age.
The protest movement has gained momentum via social
media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far
left to the nationalist far right, and moderates in between
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