France has wit­nessed its worst vi­o­lent protests in decades, as fears of a pos­si­ble coup at­tempt against French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron have spread

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

AMID vi­o­lence in the cap­i­tal three week­ends run­ning, a French min­istry has warned of the pos­si­bil­ity of a coup d’état, Le Fi­garo news­pa­per re­ported late Thurs­day. “They are putschists. We are in a coup at­tempt,” French of­fi­cials were quoted as say­ing in the piece. The re­port said pro­test­ers are also plan­ning to at­tack of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing bu­reau­crats, gov­ern­ment and se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

French in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, Le Fi­garo also said there are “calls to kill and be armed with guns to at­tack par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, the gov­ern­ment, the of­fi­cials of the ex­ec­u­tive and the po­lice,” ad­ding that the se­cret ser­vices re­ported these threats to the pres­i­dency.

Much of Paris is in lock­down and tens of thou­sands of po­lice de­ployed across the na­tion to con­tain what pro­test­ers are billing as “Act IV” to the “yellow vest” re­bel­lion that has seen the worst un­rest in the cap­i­tal since the 1968 stu­dent ri­ots. Some 89,000 po­lice­men are on duty to stop a re­peat of last Satur­day’s may­hem. About 8,000 of them are de­ployed in Paris where ri­ot­ers last week­end torched cars, looted shops and de­faced the Arc de Tri­om­phe with anti-Macron graf­fiti. Anoth- er week­end of vi­o­lence raises doubts over the dura­bil­ity of Macron’s prime minister, though aides to Macron and Philippe say there is no dis­cord be­tween them. Se­nior al­lies said Macron would ad­dress the na­tion early next week over pub­lic anger at the cost of liv­ing. Yet, all signs are that the gov­ern­ment has failed to quell the re­volt.

The yellow vest protests be­gan Nov. 17 over the gov­ern­ment plan to raise taxes on diesel and gaso­line, but by the time Macron bowed to three weeks of vi­o­lence and aban­doned the new fuel tax, pro­test­ers were de­mand­ing much more. Many work­ers in France are an­gry over the com­bi­na­tion of low wages, high taxes and high un­em­ploy­ment that have left many peo­ple strug­gling fi­nan­cially.

Amid the un­rest, some of the pro­test­ers, French union of­fi­cials and prom­i­nent politi­cians across the political spec­trum urged calm es­pe­cially as French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron agreed to aban­don the fuel tax hike that trig­gered the move­ment. How­ever, pro­test­ers’ de­mands have now ex­panded to other is­sues hurt­ing French work­ers, re­tirees and stu­dents.

Stu­dents op­pos­ing ed­u­ca­tion re­form protested again Fri­day, a day af­ter footage widely shared on so­cial me­dia show­ing the ar­rest of high school stu­dents protest­ing out­side Paris prompted an out­cry. Trade unions and far-left par­ties have lashed out at per­ceived po­lice bru­tal­ity.

The im­ages, filmed Thurs­day at Mantes-la-Jolie, showed a group of stu­dents 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.

The French gov­ern­ment on Fri­day de­fended the tac­tics of the riot po­lice. “Over the past few days, the stu­dents have been joined by about 100 hooded youths armed with clubs and in­cen­di­ary de­vices and de­ter­mined to pick a fight with po­lice,” In­te­rior Minister Christophe Cas­taner told a news con­fer­ence. Cas­taner said road­blocks had been set alight, pro­jec­tiles hurled at mo­torists and houses robbed in the area around the two schools. “It is in this con­text that the se­cu­rity forces stepped in,” the minister added. Ed­u­ca­tion Minister JeanMichel Blan­quer de­scribed the im­ages as “shock­ing” but said the vi­o­lence con­vuls­ing France in re­cent weeks jus­ti­fied the heavy­handed polic­ing.

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Pro­test­ers wear­ing yellow vests gather near a burn­ing car dur­ing clashes near the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, France, Dec. 1.

A worker cleans graf­fiti read­ing “long term un­rest” near the Champs-El­y­sees av­enue, Paris, Dec. 7.

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