Thousands of protesters from all over France came together on Saturday to express their rage at the French president, Emmanuel Macron and his government against rising fuel taxes. The protest by the “gilets jaunes” (yellow jackets) on the Champs-Elysées in Paris was supposed to be a peaceful one, but soon the movement degenerated.
Following the protests, Macron has asked the government to present a “clear answer” to the anger of the people on low incomes.
The grassroots issue for the protestors is the new tax levied on petrol and diesel, which the government has promised not to give up on. The movement then broadened into a wider outcry against inequality and that Macron favors the rich. A majority of French people have been supporting the protests in Paris.
On Saturday, demonstrators, wearing a yellow fluorescent, high-visibility jacket, gathered on Champs-Elysées in Paris and sung national anthem, while demanding Emmanuel Macron’s resignation. By late evening, luxury shop windows were smashed, barricades were put on fire and traffic signals were broken. Around five policemen and 19 locals were injured and 130 were arrested.
A small minority of “ultra-right” trouble-makers was blamed by the government for invading the demonstrators.
Amidst increasing speculations that Macron will be holding a consultation next week to discuss the living standards and suggest measures to reduce the impact of rising petrol and diesel costs, he told reporters in Brussels that the government must come out with a clear answer.
Donald Trump did not let go of this opportunity to insult Emmanuel Macron yet again. Earlier this month, Trump had mocked Macron via series of tweets on the subject of World War II.
“The large and violent French protests don’t take into account how badly the United States has been treated on Trade by the European Union or on fair and reasonable payments for our GREAT military protection. Both of these topics must be remedied soon,” Trump tweeted.
Trump saw the Paris protests as a chance to raise his own unrelated disputes with the EU on trade and defense spending. The US president is often seen criticizing the NATO countries about their levels of defense pending. Trump accuses the EU for treating the US “very unfairly” over trade issues.
Bruno Le Maire, French economy minister, on Sunday said “the current crisis goes far beyond just a question of fuel.” He also acknowledged that it was imperative that “work be better paid” to improvise living standards.
According to the interior ministry, 106,000 people protested in France on Saturday.