France gears up to face new riots; Paris shuts down
08 December, 2018, 17:41
It is feared that the viral videos could further inflame the "yellow vest" protests, which have led to the worst rioting Paris has seen in decades.
Paris police detained almost 300 people on Saturday ahead of fresh anti-government "yellow vest" protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a third weekend in a row.
He said the Louvre museum, Orsay museum, the two operas, and the Grand Palais were among the sites that would be closed a week after rioters looted and defaced the Arc de Triomphe.
Blocked by police, they tried other routes.
The protesters are angry at Macron and high taxes, among other problems.
Now the demands of the "yellow vest" movement - named for the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists keep in their cars - are pressing for a wider range of benefits from the government to help French workers, retirees and students.
At around 9:45 am, police said there were close to 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees.
Dozens of people wearing face masks threw Molotov cocktails, torched rubbish bins and clashed with police outside schools in several cities on Thursday.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner urged calm: "I ask the yellow vests that want to bring about a peaceful message to not go with the violent people".
Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.
"We are not black bloc [black clad anarchists], we are ordinary people voicing our anger", said a protester who did not want to be identified.
Authorities deployed barricade-busting armored vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone.
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In what should have been a festive pre-Christmas shopping day, tourists were few and residents were advised to stay at home if at all possible.
Foreign governments are watching developments closely in one of the world's most visited cities.
In a warning of impending violence, an MP for Macron's party, Benoit Potterie, received a bullet in the post on Friday with the words: "Next time it will be between your eyes".
Macron announced earlier this week that the planned hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, which sparked the protest movement, would be cancelled outright.
"The troublemakers can only be effective when they disguise themselves as yellow vests".
Protests at dozens of schools over university reforms, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of general revolt.
About 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, some 8,000 of them in Paris.
Arguing that such a move was necessary in order to boost investment and create jobs, he has so far ruled out re-imposing the "fortune tax".
"[This is] a president who believes in the European project, who has grandiose ideas about the world, who cuts taxes for the rich and the puts up the cost of filling up your vehicle or van for those on lower incomes", Farage said.
Since the anti-government unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents.
Parts of Paris looked like they were bracing for a hurricane, with boards on windows covering up the Christmas decorations.
"It's with an enormous sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", said Mayor Anne Hidalgo. "Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people".
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