Macron to Yellow Vests Protesters Ahead of Expected Rally: 'Calm Down'

Daniel Fowler
December 15, 2018

A auto burns during a protest of "yellow vests" ("gilets jaunes") against the rising cost of living near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, on December 8.

Paris Chief of Police, Michel Delpuech, said he plans to "deploy a number of police similar to last week in terms of resources, strength and strategy" on Saturday.

More than 20 police vans and a water cannon truck were parked nearby. It has since morphed into an expression of anger about the high cost of living and a sense that President Emanuel Macron's government is detached from the everyday struggles of workers.

Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests - dubbed the Yellow Vests - have been gathering in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.

Egyptian authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents might attempt to copy French protesters during next month's anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, AP reports, citing security officials and retailers.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, for his part, said that the government has raised its security threat level to "attack emergency", following the attack.

"Last time, we were here for taxes", said 28-year-old called Jeremy told the AFP news agency.

The movement protesting new fuel taxes in France has caused billions of dollars in damages, but has also specifically destroyed several luxury cars.

Maxime Nicolle, known as one of the leading names of the yellow vest movement, shared a video on a page called "Fly Ryder", arguing that the assailant wouldn't go to an uncrowded street late night to perform such act and said he would have preferred Champs-Elysees.

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On Friday, Macron called for calm during the demonstrations, and the government urged protesters to remain peaceful.

Others have suggested that the mostly small town and rural protesters should show resolve by rallying in the regions rather than heading for the capital where large numbers of security forces are being deployed in the expectation of violence fomented by many far-right and far-left agitators. Protesting is not smashing our heritage.

A major survey of French private-sector business activity indicated that output shrank in December for the first time in two and a half years, underscoring the economic impact of the "yellow vest" protests that have swept the country.

Public protests had been all but banned by Sisi's authoritarian government.

"Everything's coming up now", Lamy said.

There are signs that the Yellow Vests are now experiencing an internal fracture between those who are placated by the developments and those who scent blood in Macron's recent backing down (he had already reneged on the introduction of a fuel levy which was the original spark for the protests).

But on the streets of Paris on Saturday, some protesters were saying the president still didn't understand them.

In the meantime, Macron - whose government easily survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday over its handling of the protests - is trying to find ways of offsetting the extra spending he decided on to appease the Yellow Vests.

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