Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Hundreds of 'yellow vest' protesters are detained in Paris

Hundreds of 'yellow vest' protesters are detained in Paris

Demonstrators wearing yellow vests run away after police fired tear gas during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.

Large parts of Paris are in lockdown and many tourist attractions, museums, major department stores and metro stations shut as the capital braces for possible violence and rioting from a fringe element of the protest movement.

Around 100 people were arrested on Saturday in the Belgian capital Brussels during copycat yellow vest demonstrations rocking neighbouring France, police said.

The protests began on Nov 17 with road blockades against rising fuel prices but have since ballooned into a mass movement against Macron's policies and top-down style of governing.

The 40-year-old leader mostly spent the week holding closed-door meetings in the Elysee presidential palace, and many protesters consider him to be hiding from the people.

Macron's government warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalized and rebellious" crowds and become the most unsafe yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

One of the demonstrators, Student Louis Benzerrouk, said on Thursday that he was demonstrating because young people "are not listened to".

As of Friday morning, about 700 educational establishments were engulfed and blockaded by protesters, with students expressing anger at the government's plans to reform the exam system, which they say will limit opportunity and breed inequality among applicants.

"We have prepared a robust response", Interior Minister Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told online news site Brut on Saturday.

The US embassy issued a warning to Americans in Paris to "keep a low profile and avoid crowds", while Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic advised citizens to postpone any planned visits.


Paris police, fearing that radical protesters could turn street furniture and construction materials into makeshift weapons, on Friday were removing all glass containers, railings and construction machines in high-risk areas.

The protesters began blocking roads, fuel depots and shopping centres around France on November 17 over soaring petrol prices that have hit people in the provinces who get around by auto.

Prized Paris monuments and normally bustling shopping meccas locked down and tens of thousands of police took position around France to face protesters angry at President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes.

Prominent "yellow vest" protester Benjamin Cauchy has called on Mr Macron to meet a delegation to defuse a situation that he said had brought France "to the brink of insurrection and civil war".

Many protesters slammed the French media for portraying the protests as led by violent agitators and for siding with Macron's government.

He has left his unpopular government to try to calm the nation.

The rioting in France has also had an economic impact at the height of the holiday shopping season.

"The troublemakers can only be effective when they disguise themselves as yellow vests". Music festivals, operas and other cultural events in the capital were canceled.

Dozens of streets in central Paris were closed to traffic, while the Eiffel Tower and world-famous museums such as the Musee d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre were closed.

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