French gov­ern­ment de­cries for­eign pow­ers for ‘yel­low vest’ ri­ots

Tak­ing sup­port from prom­i­nent Ital­ian fig­ures for the 'yel­low vest' pro­test­ers into ac­count, the French gov­ern­ment has drawn at­ten­tion to the pos­si­ble role of 'for­eign pow­ers'

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

FRANCE’S Equal­ity Min­is­ter, Mar­lene Schi­appa, blamed “for­eign pow­ers” for sup­port­ing the on­go­ing “yel­low vest” protests. “I just ask by whom the van­dals were fi­nanced,” the min­is­ter said while talk­ing about the protests that have shaken the coun­try to the core.

AS France’s "yel­low vest" move­ment digs in for more protests, French gov­ern­ment has de­cried for­eign pow­ers that give sup­port for van­dal­ism across the coun­try.

Mar­lene Schi­appa, min­is­ter for equal­ity, crit­i­cized the do­na­tion of funds for Christophe Det­tinger, a for­mer light heavy­weight cham­pion caught on cam­era beat­ing two riot of­fi­cers, and said it could mean sup­port­ing vi­o­lence. Known as “The Gypsy From Massy” dur­ing his days in the ring, Det­tinger has be­come a sym­bol of the deep di­vi­sions wrought by the yel­low vest move­ment, with some pro­test­ers hail­ing him as a hero and crit­ics of the re­bel­lion la­bel­ing his ac­tions out­ra­geous.

“I did not ask for the names of in­di­vid­u­als who have made do­na­tions. I just ask by whom the van­dals were fi­nanced. [Tak­ing Ital­ian of­fi­cials’ re­marks into ac­count] It sounds to me mean­ing­ful to ask whether for­eign pow­ers are sup­port­ing [the protests],” the French min­is­ter said, speak­ing to Ra­dio France In­ter­na­tionale.

The pro­test­ers drew sup­port from an un­likely source this week when the two lead­ing fig­ures of the pop­ulist gov­ern­ment in Rome urged the yel­low vests to con­tinue, in com­ments which risk ramp­ing up Italy’s war of words with Macron. “Yel­low vests, do not weaken!” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Luigi Di Maio, who heads the anti-es­tab­lish­ment Five Star Move­ment (M5S), wrote on his party’s blog. The move un­der­scored the in­creas­ingly sour re­la­tions be­tween Rome and Paris, which have pre­vi­ously clashed over im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, among other is­sues.

Ear­lier this week, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has warned that some ex­treme Yel­low Vest pro­test­ers are sup­ported from abroad, gov­ern­ment spokesman Ben­jamin Griveaux said. Macron told min­is­ters that the protest move­ment, which launched in Novem­ber against planned fuel-tax rises but has since raised broader and less clear de­mands, in­volved many “sin­cere peo­ple... wor­ried about get­ting to the next pay­check,” Griveaux said.

But, Griveaux added, the protests also in­volved “sub­ver­sives, vi­o­lent and bru­tal peo­ple, some­times from the ex­treme right, some­times from the ex­treme left, some of whom are even get­ting sup­port from abroad.” Griveaux pointed to what he ar­gued was sym­pa­thetic cov­er­age of the protests, which have led to weekly clashes with the po­lice in Paris and other cities, by Rus­sia’s state-run broad­caster RT.

The yel­low vest move­ment orig­i­nally started against fuel tax hikes but has snow­balled into a wider re­volt against a pres­i­dent and gov­ern­ment ac­cused of be­ing out-of-touch with or­di­nary peo­ple. Scores of cars have been burned and shops van­dal­ized, and nearly 60 per­cent of the 3,200 speed radars along French high­ways have been de­stroyed or dam­aged since the move­ment be­gan, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Christophe Cas­taner said Thurs­day.

The im­ages of re­newed vi­o­lence and destruc­tion in Paris last Satur­day un­der­scored the dif­fi­culty of con­tain­ing a lead­er­less move­ment that ap­peared to be pe­ter­ing out at the end of 2018 but has since gained new mo­men­tum. Many of the yel­low vest demon­stra­tors are de­mand­ing that cen­trist Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron re­sign, a de­mand dis­missed as un­demo­cratic by the gov­ern­ment. Macron made mul­ti­ple con­ces­sions that failed to ex­tin­guish the anger of the yel­low vest move­ment, which is named af­ter the flu­o­res­cent pro­tec­tive gar­ments the pro­test­ers wear. He aban­doned the tax hike and an­nounced last month a se­ries of mea­sures to boost pur­chas­ing power. The pack­age, es­ti­mated at 10 bil­lion eu­ros ($11.46 bil­lion), in­cludes a 100-euro monthly in­crease to the min­i­mum salary.

A pro­tester, wear­ing a yel­low vest, holds a French flag, in Fon­taine-Notre-Dame, Dec. 4.

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