Lockdown in Paris
Capital braces for wrath of protesters as discontent swells
THE Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum in Paris are closed today as French authorities tighten security to prevent another outbreak of violence after three weeks of anti-government protests.
And at the height of the festive shopping season, many retailers have said they would remain shut for the day for fear they might be in the line of any unrest between protesters and police.
In addition to the 8 000 police forces that have been sent to the French capital city.
Fearing protesters could target street furniture and use material found at construction sites as makeshift weapons, Paris police removed glass containers, railings and building machines set up in the identified places which include the world-renowned Champs-Elysées avenue.
Many shop owners across Paris are getting ready for the violence, setting up walls with carton boards to protect their windows. Meanwhile, the Nicolas wine chain, one of the biggest retailers in the country, cancelled all its wine tasting sessions scheduled for today.
Across the country about 89 000 police have been mobilised, up from 65 000 last weekend when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in Paris in decades.
And authorities have also cancelled six French league soccer matches this weekend around the country.
Since the unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in accidents.
The protesters are collectively referred to as the “yellow vests” (gilets jaunes) movement, in reference to the fluorescent safety outfit French motorists keep in their cars.
Amid the unrest, some of the protesters, union officials and prominent politicians have urged calm, especially as French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike that triggered the protests.
However, protesters’ demands have expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students.
Students opposing an education reform protested again yesterday, a day after footage widely shared on social media showing the arrest of high school pupils demonstrating outside Paris prompted an outcry. Trade unions and far-left parties have lashed out at perceived police brutality.
The images, filmed on Thursday at Mantes-la-Jolie, showed a group of pupils on their knees with their hands behind their head. They are being watched over by armed police officers whose faces are hidden by ski masks.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 151 people were arrested in the small town, adding that some of them carried weapons. He said none of the pupils was injured.
The rioting has also had an economic impact at the height of the shopping season. In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across France, including the Louvre, Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, will keep their doors shut today. |
A SERENE view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a two-day special show in September presented by lighting designers Motoko Ishii and Akari-Lisa Ishii to celebrate 160 years of diplomatic relations between France and Japan. The Eiffel Tower will be closed today because of planned protests in the French capital, the site’s operator said. About a dozen museums, including the Grand Palais, cultural sites such as the Opera and shops in central Paris have also been ordered by police to close over fears of violence. |