Scottish Daily Mail
Bin barricades, streets ablaze
FEARS mounted of yet more unrest on the streets of France this weekend as the government struggled to get a grip on the demonstrations causing nationwide turmoil.
Mounds of rubbish left by striking bin men continued to pile up in Paris, serving in part as makeshift barricades for protesters.
The demonstrations, sparked by president Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64, have turned violent in the past ten days.
The doors of Bordeaux’s city hall were set alight on Thursday night and more than 903 fires were lit across Paris, according to interior minister Gerald Darmanin.
Threatening graffiti was daubed around the Place de la Concorde in the capital, reading ‘Death to the king’ and ‘Macron decapitation’.
Rubbish has not been collected since March 6, providing thousands of tons of refuse for masked protesters to burn.
They see Mr Macron’s insistence that the pension reforms will be enshrined in law later this year, without a vote in the lower house of parliament, as an assault on their way of life.
An effigy of the president, who has been likened to a monarch with ‘contempt’ for the republic, has been burnt.
More than 450 demonstrators were arrested on Thursday as around 300 rallies across the country drew in at least a million protesters. Events in Paris were largely peaceful, with small pockets of violent clashes breaking out with police on Thursday night.
There have also been clashes between police and protesters in the western cities of Nantes, Rennes and Lorient.
Train and air travel has been disrupted, as has work on oil refineries, and schools have also been hit as teachers join the strikes. The Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles were closed on Thursday.
There were scattered protests yesterday. Trains were slowed, rows of lorries blocked access to
Marseille’s port for several hours and even more rubbish piled up in the streets of Paris.
Mr Macron was forced to postpone the state visit from King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, after unions called for a tenth national day of action on Tuesday during the visit.
At least 4,000 police and gendarmes were expected to be mobilised for the occasion, at a time when forces are already stretched and depleted from policing the weeks of protests.
The embattled president admitted it would ‘not be sensible and would lack common sense’ for the visit to go ahead.
‘As we have considerable friendship, respect and esteem for His Majesty and the Queen Consort and the British people, I took the initiative to call [the King] and explain the situation,’ he said yesterday. ‘Common sense and friendship led us to suggest a postponement.’
With large police resources diverted to keeping the streets safe during the widespread protests, further humiliation could be in store for the French president if more cancellations become necessary, including the popular Paris marathon.
Around 50,000 runners are expected at the starting line on the Champs-Elysees next Sunday, as well as bands and supporters lining the streets.
The marathon organisers told the Daily Mail last night there were ‘no issues’ with the event.
‘4,000 police and gendarmes’