French Riots Escalate Again in Wake Of G20 – But Macron The Target
By Graham Vanbergen: Back in February this year the ongoing trouble in Paris which led to riots in some parts of the capital spread across France as vigilantes staged running battles with police, and law enforcement had two weeks of civil unrest which led to frenzied clashes in 20 districts.
At the time, the French riots were about two separate unrelated incidents of unrest following claimed abuse of power by police. The first of these riots began on 4 February 2017 lasting 11 days, in the suburbs of Paris, following the alleged rape of a black man named Théo L. by police with a baton. The second set of riots which ended the following day, began late March when a Chinese man was fatally shot by police officers in Paris.
During May Day, a group of hooded demonstrators disrupted the annual march, throwing “Molotov cocktails, firebombs and other objects at the police near Place de la Bastille. These violent protesters, who did not carry any union or election paraphernalia, appeared to be from the same fringe groups that have targeted anti-government protests in the past.
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Last week, riot police fired tear gas to end repeated clashes among hundreds of migrants in Calais who launched their second attempt in two days to storm lorries bound for Britain, fuelling further anti-EU sentiment in much of the bloc in recent years over the recent refugee crisis and longer term immigration matters.
The European press has conveniently over-looked the most recent troubles in France as the EU27 bloc continues in damage limitation mode over Brexit and rising far-right nationalism and protectionism from eastern Europe and parts of Scandinavia.
It appears that in France, any event will now trigger trouble on the streets.
The Independent reported that the “Bastille Day protests threatened to boil over into violence at the end of Donald Trump’s visit to Paris, as his opponents took to the streets for the second consecutive day.”
But it didn’t threaten to boil over as the European press reported – it did. Yet again we see mask-wearing demonstrators throwing glass bottles and various missiles at lines of riot police attempting to block roads near the French capital’s Gare du Nord station, stopping a huge march in its tracks, in what really looked almost identical to the G20 Hamburg riots a week earlier, where the capital was trashed.
ArmstrongEconomics: “The riots is France has been forming for the last two weeks and have now erupted violently with protesters carrying banners that read “Break Destroy Ravage” that is similar to the destructive forces unleashed in Hamburg. The police report that the mob is composed of the youth. It is hard to see how these people can practice restraint when unemployment among the youth is so high.”
But the anger for most French protestors was clearly directed at newly appointed French President Mr Macron with his recent attacks on workers’ rights, the economy, international conflict and the country’s ongoing state of emergency that has been in place now since November 2015.
Article 16 of the Constitution provides for “extraordinary powers” (Pouvoirs exceptionnels) to the president in times of acute crisis, and Macron appears to be using them as quickly as possible, with his recent proposal to cut the number of members of the French parliament by one third to push through his agenda.
The Front Social were of course, in attendance, who accused the French President of “parading as a war chief” at the Bastille Day military parade “with the racist and misogynistic US President as his accomplice”.
I have mentioned before that after the initial relief of Marine Le Pen’s defeat in the French presidential election, there will be widespread and growing dissatisfaction with Mr Macron who won by a landslide on May 7th.
It should not be forgotten that only 49.44% of French voters actually backed broadly pro-EU candidates (Macron + Fillon + Hamon), in contrast, 49.31% voted for far-right or far-left ones.
PressTV also reported a new protest at the weekend but this time with “French activists who launched a protest rally against the planned visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Paris, slamming Bibi’s human rights violations across the occupied Palestinian territories.” Macron is very pro-Israel and has even gone as far as to state that “anti-Zionism is a new type of anti-Semitism,” fuelling even more anger from political centrists.
The 2016 Eurobarometer survey reveals some interesting statistics about current sentiment within the European union. Unemployment is seen as the main challenge for the EU with 45% very worried about future prospects. More than one third considers social inequalities and migration issues to be the main challenges and just over half of all respondents agree globalisation threatens their country’s identity.
Nearly 60% of respondents do not agree that in their country everyone has a chance to succeed in life and a majority of respondents think the life of today’s children in the EU will be more difficult than the life of those from their own. These reasons; work, inequality, migration and the next generation will not be tackled by new French president Emmanuel Macron.
Macron is likely to ignore these very real worries and escalate tensions between civil society and government as he pushes his more socially liberal but business-friendly agenda that has eventual designs on handing control to Brussels. Macron is strong in cosmopolitan cities but weak in the de-industrialised north, east and south. Violence is far more likely in these districts by the nature of their demographics.
Macron has also praised Angela Merkel for her overly generous policy on asylum seekers that in the end led to more than a million new arrivals in Germany which also saw a huge escalation in violence and subsequent protest as a result. The German government have now recognised that over half of all refugee arrivals will still be dependent on the state after 10 years in the country.
All of this is something that the French people are already angry at – and the signs are ominous for Macron who has barely been in power for ten weeks and already ignoring the will of a great many citizens, including those who voted in his favour, but not for him in particular.