Eiffel Tower to shut as France fears more riots
Authorities across France braced yesterday for the possibility of more riots and violence at antigovernment protests this weekend, holding emergency meetings and deploying tens of thousands of police and security forces.
Museums, theatres and shops in Paris announced they would close tomorrow as a precaution — including the Eiffel Tower.
Police unions and city authorities met to strategise on how to handle the day’s protests, which were being held even though French President Emmanuel Macron earlier cancelled a fuel tax hike that had unleashed weeks of unrest.
On the other side of France's volatile social debate, disparate groups of protesters did the same thing, sharing their weekend plans on social networks and chat groups.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told senators yesterday that the Government would deploy “exceptional” security measures for the protests in Paris and elsewhere.
On TF1 television, Philippe said 89,000 police officers would be deployed across France tomorrow — up from 65,000 last weekend.
In Paris alone, 8000 police officers will be mobilised. They will be equipped with a dozen armoured vehicles — a first in a French urban area since 2005.
Some “yellow vest” protesters, French union officials and prominent politicians across the political spectrum yesterday called for calm after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend.
Macron agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to combat global warming, but protesters' demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students. And in a move questioned by both critics and supporters, the president himself has disappeared from public view.
The prime minister reiterated the Government's plan to scrap a fuel tax rise planned by the previous government because of the “extreme tensions”.
“No tax deserves to put civil peace in danger,” Philippe said.
The Paris rioting has worried tourists, forcing the cancellation of four French league soccer matches this weekend and damaged the local economy at the height of the holiday shopping season.
Rampaging groups last weekend threw cobblestones through Paris storefronts and looted valuables in some of the city's richest neighbourhoods.
A demonstrator throws debris at a burning barricade while protesting against rising fuel taxes on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris.