Posts Tagged ‘Toulouse’

Exiled Azerbaijan journalist shot, wife killed in southern France — Cross border intimidation aimed at silencing critics, with death if necessary…

March 30, 2018

AFP

© YouTube screen grab

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-03-30

A gunman shot and gravely wounded an exiled Azeri journalist, Rahim Namazov, in a suburb of Toulouse in southern France on Friday, a police source said.

Namazov fled to France from Azerbaijan in 2010. In a video posted on YouTube in December that year, Namazov said he was jailed after writing stories about brutality against soldiers in units of the Azeri military.

“Rahim Namazov is a journalist who had been tortured and imprisoned in his country and is a political refugee in France,” Karine Michelet-Traval, the mayor of Colomiers where the shooting occurred, told the La Depeche newspaper.

“You can’t help but think this was a settling of scores.”

Namazov’s wife was killed in the shooting, Michelet-Traval told the newspaper. The local prosecutor is due to make a statement at 16h00 (1400 GMT).

(REUTERS)

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A YouTube still of Namazov.

A YouTube still of Namazov.

A gunman shot and gravely wounded an exiled Azeri journalist and killed his wife near the southern French city of Toulouse on Friday, in an incident the local mayor said appeared to be a settling of political scores.

Rahim Namazov was an outspoken critic of the Azeri political leadership and served time in prison before seeking exile in France in 2010.

In a video posted on YouTube in December that year, Namazov said he was jailed after writing stories about brutality against soldiers in units of the Azeri military. He said he had spent six months in solitary confinement.

“It’s the journalistic profession, the father of a family and the freedom of the press that has been attacked today,” Karine Michelet-Traval, the mayor of Colomiers where the shooting occurred, said in a statement.

In separate comments to La Depeche newspaper, she said: “You can’t help but think this was a settling of scores.”

Namazov’s wife was killed in the shooting. A police source said she had been shot in the head, apparently at close range. Witnesses spoke of hearing multiple gunshots, local media reported.

Image may contain: text

Human Rights Watch said last year the Azeri government continued its crackdown on dissenting voices and that reports of torture persisted. It also said independent media outlets faced harassment and closure and critical journalists faced threats and intimidation aimed at silencing them.

https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20180330/world/gunman-shoots-exiled-azeri-journalist-in-france-kills-wife.674914

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French Police Officer is National Hero After Islamic State Hostage Attack — Baltrame volunteered to take the place of a female hostage, left his phone on to help police

March 24, 2018

AFP and The Associated Press

© Via @gerardcollomb (Ministre d’État, Ministre de l’Intérieur) | Col. Arnaud Beltrame succumbed to his injuries Saturday, March 24, 2018.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-03-24

A French police officer who offered himself up to an extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage has died of his injuries, the interior minister said Saturday.

Col. Arnaud Beltrame was among the first officers to respond to the attack on the supermarket in the south of France on Friday. His death, announced by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, raises the toll to four. The gunman was also killed, and 15 people were injured in the attack.

The gunman first hijacked a car and opened fire on police, then took hostages inside a supermarket. Baltrame volunteered to take the place of a female hostage and surreptitiously left on his cellphone so police outside could hear what was happening inside the store.

Officials said the decision was made to storm the building when they heard shots fired.

 

© France24 screengrab | Col. Arnaud Beltrame succumbed to his injuries Saturday, March 24, 2018.

Le lieutenant-colonel Arnaud Beltrame nous a quittés.
Mort pour la patrie.
Jamais la France n’oubliera son héroïsme, sa bravoure, son sacrifice.
Le coeur lourd, j’adresse le soutien du pays tout entier à sa famille, ses proches et ses compagnons de la @Gendarmerie de l’Aude.

French President Emmanuel Macron said investigators will focus on establishing how the gunman, identified by prosecutors as Moroccan-born Redouane Lakdim, got his weapon and how he became radicalized.

On Friday night, authorities searched a vehicle and a building in central Carcassonne.

Lakdim was known to police for petty crime and drug dealing. But he was also under surveillance and since 2014 was on the so-called “Fiche S” list, a government register of individuals suspected of being radicalized but who have yet to perform acts of terrorism.

Despite this, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said there was “no warning sign” that Lakdim would carry out an attack.

A woman close to Lakdim was taken into custody over alleged links with a terrorist enterprise, Molins said. He did not identify her.

The four-hour drama began at 10:13 a.m. when Lakdim hijacked a car near Carcassonne, killing one person in the car and wounding the other, the prosecutor said.

Lakdim then fired six shots at police officers who were on their way back from jogging near Carcassonne, said Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of SGP Police-FO police union. The police were wearing athletic clothes with police insignia. One officer was hit in the shoulder, but the injury was not serious, Lefebvre said.

Lakdim then went to a Super U supermarket in nearby Trebes, 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Toulouse, shooting and killing two people in the market and taking an unknown number of hostages. Special police units converged on the scene while authorities blocked roads and urged residents to stay away.

 

Armed gendarmes stand outside the Super U after their assault Friday on the supermarket where a gunman was holding hostages in Trebes, southern France.Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA

 

He shouted “Allahu akbar! (God is great)” and said he was a “soldier of the Islamic State” as he entered the Super U, where about 50 people were inside, Molins said.

“We heard an explosion – well, several explosions,” shopper Christian Guibbert told reporters. “I went to see what was happening and I saw a man lying on the floor and another person, very agitated, who had a gun in one hand and a knife in the other.”

Three dead after jihadist goes on shooting rampage in southern France
French security and police gather outside the Super U supermarket in the town of Trebes. Photo: AFP

During the standoff, Lakdim requested the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving assailant of the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. The interior minister suggested, however, that Abdeslam’s release wasn’t a key motive for the attack.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the attacker was responding to the group’s calls to target countries in the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq since 2014. France has been repeatedly targeted because of its participation.

France has been on high alert since a series of extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed more than 200 people.

(AP)

See also:

The French officer who offered himself for a hostage now fights for his life, but his bravery saved lives

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/23/europe/france-trebes-intl/index.html

At least two dead in French supermarket hostage-taking — Pledged loyalty to Islamic State

March 23, 2018

Reuters

TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) – At least one person was killed when a man took hostages in a supermarket in the southwestern French town of Trebes on Friday, the mayor told BFM TV. The station reported that the hostage-taker has claimed allegiance to Islamic State.

Mayor Eric Menassi also told LCI TV that the man had entered the shop screaming “Allahu Akbar, (God is greatest) I’ll kill you all”.

Another person was hurt but their condition was not known, Menassi said. The hostage-taker was now alone with one police officer in the supermarket and all other hostages had been freed, he added.

LCI TV said the second victim was also dead and that 12 people were injured.

“All the information we have as I speak lead us to think that this would be a terrorist act,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes, Aude, France March 23, 2018 in this picture obtained from a social media video. LA VIE A TREBES/via REUTERS

More than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks since 2015 by assailants who pledged allegiance to, or were inspired by, Islamic State.

A police source had said earlier that eight people were being held hostage and that the hostage-taker had shot at a police officer.

Reuters pictures showed police in helmets and body armor in positions around the Super-U supermarket.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said counter-terrorism prosecutors were investigating the incident but did not comment on the possible Islamic State allegiance.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry had said security forces were carrying out an operation at a supermarket in southern France. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb was on his way.

“There is an ongoing situation … in the town of Trebes, where shots have been heard and a man entrenched himself in a supermarket,” Philippe said. “It’s a serious situation.”

The UNSA police union also said on Twitter a police operation was underway after an individual had earlier shot at four officers in the Carcassone region, wounding one of them.

Reporting by Johanna Decorse in Toulouse, Leigh Thomas, Emmanuel Jarry and Bate Felix in Paris; Writing by Ingrid Melander and David Stamp; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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French supermarket shooting LATEST: ‘Two dead’ after ‘Isis’ gunman opens fire

French supermarket shooting LATEST: 'Two dead' after 'Isis' gunman opens fire
The Super U supermarket at Trebbes where there hostage taking took place. Photo Screengrab Google street view
At least two people were killed after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group opened fire and took hostages at a supermarket in southwest France on Friday, a security source told AFP. French prosecutors are treating as a terror attack.

Main Info

  • Gunman opens fire and takes hostages in supermarket in Trèbes near Carcassonne
  • Unconfirmed reports that two hostages were killed
  • Supermarket gunman claims links to Isis
  • Gunman now alone in supermarket with member of French security forces, latest reports say
  • Earlier incident saw gunman open fire on police who were jogging
  • One officer left injured
  • Two incidents believed to be linked
  • Gunman reported as a Moroccan national

“Most of the employees and customers of the Super U managed to flee,” the source said, adding that a police officer was in contact with the gunman at the supermarket in the town of Trebes, near Carcassonne.

Security forces responded to two separate incidents, one at a supermarket in the town of Trèbes and the second, a 15-minute drive away, in the town of Carcassonne where a policeman was shot.

It was still unclear if the two incidents were linked.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described the ongoing incident as a “serious situation” while Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced he was heading immediately to Trèbes.

In Trebes, the man “entered the Super U supermarket at around 11.15 am and shots were heard,” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The gunman claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, the local prosecutor’s office said. According to French newspaper Le Depeche du Midi, the gunman was about 30-years-old, was armed with one or more grenades and spoke of wanting to “avenge Syria”.

A witness said that he was armed with knives, a handgun and several grenades, Le Figaro reported.

He is believed to be a Moroccan national, according to French press reports.

Reports claim at least one person was killed while some French media reported there were two victims in the supermarket believed to have been killed.

“We unfortunately presume one person has been killed, but we cannot bring a doctor on site to check,” Jean-Valery Lettermann, the regional police chief.

According to the mayor of Trèbes Eric Ménassi the supermarket butcher had been killed. The latest reports say the gunman was alone inside the supermarket along with a member of France’s security forces.

French gendarmes block off access to Trebes. Photo: AFP

According to numerous reports the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire. Specialist counter-terrorist prosecutors in Paris have opened an investigation meaning they are treating the incident as a terror attack.

Specialist French SWAT police were on the scene at the supermarket and had surrounded the building.

“One witness named Karim, 55, told France info radio: “I heard shots fired around 11:10am. At that moment there were only a few gendarmes (military police) around but now there are between 200 to 300.

“The whole area is in lockdown and we are going to be moved away by the gendarmes.”

Another witness who worked at a nearby garage said: “There are gendarmes in front of the supermarket. We are locked in the garage with around 50 people. We are waiting.”

Local authorities tweeted that the area was out-of-bounds to the public.

🔴[OPERATION POLICE]🔴
⚠️ Opération en cours secteur Super U Trèbes.
Secteur interdit ⚠️
Merci de faciliter l’accès aux forces de l’ordre.

According to reports the policeman who was shot in Carcassonne was part of a group of unarmed CRS police based in Marseille who were jogging at the time they were targeted by a gunman.

The policeman who was shot is in a stable condition and his life is not at risk, according to reports in the French press.

It is believed the gunman initially tried to run them over in a vehicle before opening fire.

“They threw themselves to the floor but one of them was hit in the shoulder,” a source told France Info radio.

If the link to Islamic State is confirmed, the attack would be the first major incident since the election of centrist President Emmanuel Macron in May last year.

A state of emergency put in place just after the Paris attacks was finally lifted in October last year, but soldiers continue to patrol major tourist sites and transport hubs under an anti-terror mission.

https://www.thelocal.fr/20180323/breaking-news-shooting-hostage-taking-at-supermarket-in-southern-france

Muslim imams march against terrorism in Europe — “March of Muslims against Terrorism”

July 8, 2017

Around 60 imams from several European countries are on a bus tour of cities hit by Islamic terrorism in order to condemn extremism committed in the name of religion. Their message is that Islam is a religion of peace.

Imams from countries including France, Belgium, Britain and Tunisia were joined by representatives of other religious communities at the spot where French policeman Xavier Jugele was shot dead in April.

The “March of Muslims against Terrorism” kicked off on Saturday in Paris with a prayer at the site on the Champs-Elysees where a policeman was murdered by an Islamist militant in April.

It is about sending a “message of humanity and brotherhood against terrorism,” said Imam Houcine Drouiche from the French city of Nimes.

From Paris, some 60 imams will head by bus on Sunday to Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the scene of December’s terror ramming of a Christmas market that killed 12 people and wounded dozens more.

The imams, including six from Germany, will then travel by bus to other cities hit by major terror attacks over the past several years, including Brussels, Toulouse and Nice. The action will end in Paris on July 14 to mark Bastille Day.

Along the tour the imams want to pray for the victims of terrorism and show that Islam can co-exist with other religions and cultures. Organizers want to show that for the vast majority of believers Islam is a religion of peace.

At stops along the way, the imams are expected to be met by political, religious and civil society figures in communities touched by terrorism.

The organizers of the peace march are Imam Hassen Chalghoumi of the Parisian suburb of Drancy and the French Jewish writer Marek Halter.

Chalghoumi told French broadcaster France Inter on Sunday that violent groups like “Islamic State” are trying to take Islam “hostage.”

“It is important that Muslims can express themselves to say that my religion has nothing to do with these barbarians,” Chalghoumi said.

 http://www.dw.com/en/muslim-imams-march-against-terrorism-in-europe/a-39608229
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Muslim leaders launch European tour to protest against terror
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© FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP | The Imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi (L), Lebanese Imam Mohammad Ali Al-Husseini (2L) Egyptian Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb (C) and writer Marek Halter (2R) at The Muslim March Against Terrorism in Paris

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-08

Dozens of religious leaders boarded a bus on the Champs Élysées in Paris on Saturday to kick off a European tour of the sites of recent Islamist attacks to remember the victims and condemn violence.

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Imams from countries including France, Belgium, Britain and Tunisia were joined by representatives of other religious communities at the spot where French policeman Xavier Jugele was shot dead in April.

Tour stops will include Berlin — where organisers say they hope to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel — Brussels and Nice, with a return to Paris for July 14, the first anniversary of the Nice truck attack.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Nice attack when a truck killed 86 people celebrating Bastille Day on the seafront and a truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin last December that killed 12.

The Imam of Drancy and French writer Marek Halter were behind the initiative of the current tour.

“We are here to say that our religion and the values of Islam are opposed to those assassins,” Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam de Drancy, told France Inter radio on Saturday.

Some 30 people boarded the bus on Saturday with more expected to join on the way, bringing the total number of participants to 60.

(REUTERS)

 

“Is Paris Burning?” — Violence flares at protest over alleged rape by French police

February 12, 2017

AFP

© Grégoire Hozan, AFP | An image grab taken from an AFP video shows a radio van burning during clashes in the Paris suburb of Bobigny on February 11, 2017.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-02-12

Sporadic clashes broke out Saturday in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, where some 2,000 people had gathered to protest against police brutality and the alleged rape of a 22-year-old man by an officer wielding a truncheon.

Demonstrators held placards reading “police rapes” and “police kills innocents” as they rallied outside the Bobigny courthouse, north-east of the French capital, surrounded by a large contingent of riot police.

While the rally was mostly peaceful, reporters at the scene said clashes broke out after a handful of protesters hurled projectiles at police and several vehicles were set alight, including a van belonging to RTL radio station. Officers responded with tear gas.

Earlier in the day, four people were arrested in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille on the sidelines of another march against police violence, officials said. Similar protests took place in other French cities, including Toulouse and Orléans.

The unrest in Bobigny follows several nights of violence in Paris’ northern outskirts, triggered by the brutal arrest last week of a black man identified only as Theo, in the nearby suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois.

The youth worker suffered such severe injuries to his rectum during the arrest that he needed major emergency surgery and remains in hospital.

One policeman has been placed under investigation for rape, suspected of deliberately shoving a truncheon into the young man’s rectum.

Three other officers have been charged with “deliberate violence in a group”.

On Thursday, police sources said their own investigation into the incident had concluded that the injuries were not inflicted intentionally.

The case has revived past controversies over the relationship between police and immigrant communities in France’s rundown suburbs, where police are regularly accused of discrimination and brutality.

In 2005, the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electricity substation sparked weeks of riots in France. Around 10,000 cars were burned and 6,000 people were arrested.

The latest case comes in the midst of a presidential election campaign and follows the death of 24-year-old Adama Traore in police custody in another Parisian suburb last year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

European cities ramp up security for New Year after Berlin attack

December 30, 2016

Reuters

German policemen patrol with submachine gun at the Brandenburg Gate, ahead of the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations in Berlin, Germany, December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
By Oliver Denzer and Geert De Clercq | BERLIN/PARIS

European capitals tightened security on Friday ahead of New Year’s celebrations, erecting concrete barriers in city centres and stepping up police numbers after the Islamic State attack in Berlin last week that killed 12 people.

In the German capital, police closed the Pariser Platz square in front of the Brandenburg Gate and prepared to deploy 1,700 extra officers, many along a party strip where armored cars will flank concrete barriers blocking off the area.

“Every measure is being taken to prevent a possible attack,” Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told Reuters TV. Some police officers would carry sub-machine guns, he said, an unusual tactic for German police.

Last week’s attack in Berlin, in which a 24-year old Tunisian ploughed a truck into a Christmas market, has prompted German lawmakers to call for tougher security measures.

In Milan, where police shot the man dead, security checks were set up around the main square. Trucks were banned from the centres of Rome and Naples. Police and soldiers cradled machine guns outside tourists sites including Rome’s Colosseum.

Madrid plans to deploy an extra 1,600 police on the New Year weekend. For the second year running, access to the city’s central Puerta del Sol square where revellers traditionally gather to bring in the New Year will be restricted to 25,000 people, with police setting up barricades to control access.

In Cologne in western Germany, where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed outside the central train station on New Year’s Eve last year, police have installed new video surveillance cameras to monitor the station square.

The attacks in Cologne, where police said the suspects were mainly of North African and Arab appearance, fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept nearly 900,000 migrants last year.

The Berlin attack has intensified that criticism.

In Frankfurt, home to the European Central Bank and Germany’s biggest airport, more than 600 police officers will be on duty on New Year’ Eve, twice as many as in 2015.

In Brussels, where Islamist suicide bombers killed 16 people and injured more than 150 in March, the mayor was reviewing whether to cancel New Year fireworks but decided this week that they would go ahead.

PARIS PATROLS

In Paris, where Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people last November, authorities prepared for a high-security weekend, the highlight of which will be the fireworks on the Champs-Élysées, which some 600,000 people are expected to attend.

Ahead of New Year’s Eve, heavily armed soldiers patrolled popular Paris tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre museum.

Across France, more than 90,000 police and thousands of soldiers will be on duty for New Year’s Eve, authorities said.

On Wednesday, police in southwest France, arrested a man suspected of having planned an attack on New Year’s Eve.

Two other people, one of whom was suspected of having planned an attack on police, were arrested in a separate raid, also in southwest France near Toulouse, police sources told Reuters.

In Vienna, police handed out more than a thousand pocket alarms to women, eager to avoid a repeat of the sexual assaults that blighted Cologne’s New Year’s Eve in 2015.

“At present, there is no evidence of any specific danger in Austria. However, we are talking about an increased risk situation,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said.

“We leave nothing to chance with regard to security.”

In Ukraine, police arrested a man on Friday who they suspect was planning a Berlin copycat attack in the city of Odessa.

(Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt, Kirsti Knolle in Vienna, Teis Jensen in Copenhagen, Isla Binnie in Rome, Sarah White in Madrid and Robert Muller in Prague; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Louise Ireland)

France Charges Third Man in Priest Murder Case

August 13, 2016

The latest terrorism charges suggest the slaying was the work of a broader group of Islamic State followers

Muslim worshipers observe a minute of silence in front of a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, paying tribute to priest Jacques Hamel, killed during an Islamic State-linked attack.
Muslim worshipers observe a minute of silence in front of a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, paying tribute to priest Jacques Hamel, killed during an Islamic State-linked attack. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

France’s ‘occupy’ protests a warning for Hollande’s Socialists

April 7, 2016

AFP and The Associated Press

© Thomas Samson / AFP | Protesters hold a meeting on the Place de la Republique in Paris on April 7, 2016.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-04-07

An Occupy-style protest in Paris is gathering steam and spreading to cities across France, a sign of simmering anger as the country’s Socialist government struggles to push through contested labor reforms.

The few thousand students, activists and agitators who gather every night at Place de la Republique for “Nuit Debout” – perhaps best translated as “Night Rising” – might otherwise have been the government’s left-wing base. But the clumsy attempt to jump-start France’s persistently low employment by loosening some social protections has fed a sense of alienation that many on the sprawling square are trying to turn into an all-out revolt.

“There’s a feeling of deep betrayal,” said Mariam Aueto, a 27-year-old with black glasses and a black headscarf. “This government is doing the opposite of what we elected it to do.”

The protest is so far just a week old but has the trappings of long-haul sit-in, with couches, tents, tarpaulins, a canteen, an infirmary and even a bookstall carrying titles such as: “Unemployed and loving it: A manifesto.” Speakers address each other as “comrade” and take turns at the microphone to denounce “industrial capitalism” and “bourgeois democracy.” Copycat demonstrations have popped up in several other French cities, including Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse – and even Brussels.

Nuit Debout began last week, when a small core of protesters denouncing the labor reform decided to camp overnight in Place de la Republique in eastern Paris, which became a symbolic gathering place after last year’s deadly attacks.

Seven, an oil painter and refugee activist who goes by his pen name, said a half-hearted police attempt to clear the camp foundered when television journalists arrived on the scene. Slouching in a scavenged office chair, the dreadlock-sporting artist said the protest had grown every night.

“Soon it will be totally full,” he hopes.

The French government has been treading carefully. The police presence Wednesday night was nearly invisible and politicians from across the left – from radical firebrands such as Jean-Luc Melenchon to politician Julien Dray, an ally of French president Francois Hollande – have come to the protests to pay their respects. Even Myriam El Khomri, the minister championing labor reform in parliament, said she was sensitive to the protesters’ demands.

“Our country has been living through 30 years of mass unemployment,” she said earlier this week. “So we have to have to listen to this kind of exasperation.”

Meanwhile the movement has worked to keep up its momentum, drawing everyone from disgruntled farmers to militant tire workers.

Mickael Wamen, an outspoken ex-Goodyear employee who became notorious for being part of a group that held their boss hostage in 2014, was one of several who evoked the tax havens exposed in the recently published Panama Papers.

“People pretend to be surprised,” he said at Republique. “We’ve all known for years!”

BLAMING FRANCE’S ‘BLOATED’ LABOUR CODE

Many expressed a disgust with party politics that bodes poorly for the left ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Clement Baudet, a 27-year-old radio journalist, said he backed France’s socialists in 2012 but was so unhappy with their government he wouldn’t vote again – for anyone.

Baudet had initially intended to cover the protest as a reporter. Instead, he joined in the movement, working with colleagues to set up “Radio Debout,” an improvised internet radio station broadcasting from a laptop perched on a wooden pallet under a tarp.

“I don’t know where it’s going to lead,” Baudet said of the protests. “But I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The gathering had elements of farce. One speaker was interrupted by a man who grabbed the microphone and staggered around slurring threats at the audience.

Some visitors were left cold by the spectacle.

Wais Furre, a 21-year-old politics student whose sharp suit, smart shoes and an Italian felt hat set him apart from the activists in red scarves and Lenin caps, said he thought the protesters were “fighting just for the sake of fighting.”

“France is a tough country to reform,” he said. “Everyone wants change, but no one wants to change.”

(AP)

Related:

Paris’ Occupy-Style Protesters Carry Warning for French Left

April 7, 2016

PARIS — An Occupy-style protest in Paris is gathering steam and spreading to cities across France, a sign of simmering anger as the country’s socialist government struggles to push through contested labor reforms.

The few thousand students, activists and agitators who gather every night at Place de la Republique for “Nuit Debout” — perhaps best translated as “Night Rising” — might otherwise have been the government’s left-wing base. But the clumsy attempt to jump-start France’s persistently low employment by loosening some social protections has fed a sense of alienation that many on the sprawling square are trying to turn into an all-out revolt.

“There’s a feeling of deep betrayal,” said Mariam Aueto, a 27-year-old with black glasses and a black headscarf. “This government is doing the opposite of what we elected it to do.”

The protest is so far just a week old but has the trappings of long-haul sit-in, with couches, tents, tarpaulins, a canteen, an infirmary and even a bookstall carrying titles such as: “Unemployed and loving it: A manifesto.” Speakers address each other as “comrade” and take turns at the microphone to denounce “industrial capitalism” and “bourgeois democracy.” Copycat demonstrations have popped up in several other French cities, including Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse — and even Brussels.

Nuit Debout began last week, when a small core of protesters denouncing the labor reform decided to camp overnight in Place de la Republique in eastern Paris, which became a symbolic gathering place after last year’s deadly attacks.

Seven, an oil painter and refugee activist who goes by his pen name, said a half-hearted police attempt to clear the camp foundered when television journalists arrived on the scene. Slouching in a scavenged office chair, the dreadlock-sporting artist said the protest had grown every night.

“Soon it will be totally full,” he hopes.

The French government has been treading carefully. The police presence Wednesday night was nearly invisible and politicians from across the left — from radical firebrands such as Jean-Luc Melenchon to politician Julien Dray, an ally of French president Francois Hollande — have come to the protests to pay their respects. Even Myriam El Khomri, the minister championing labor reform in parliament, said she was sensitive to the protesters’ demands.

“Our country has been living through 30 years of mass unemployment,” she said earlier this week. “So we have to have to listen to this kind of exasperation.”

Meanwhile the movement has worked to keep up its momentum, drawing everyone from disgruntled farmers to militant tire workers.

Mickael Wamen, an outspoken ex-Goodyear employee who became notorious for being part of a group that held their boss hostage in 2014, was one of several who evoked the tax havens exposed in the recently published Panama Papers.

“People pretend to be surprised,” he said at Republique. “We’ve all known for years!”

Many expressed a disgust with party politics that bodes poorly for the left ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Clement Baudet, a 27-year-old radio journalist, said he backed France’s socialists in 2012 but was so unhappy with their government he wouldn’t vote again — for anyone.

Baudet had initially intended to cover the protest as a reporter. Instead, he joined in the movement, working with colleagues to set up “Radio Debout,” an improvised internet radio station broadcasting from a laptop perched on a wooden pallet under a tarp.

“I don’t know where it’s going to lead,” Baudet said of the protests. “But I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The gathering had elements of farce. One speaker was interrupted by a man who grabbed the microphone and staggered around slurring threats at the audience.

Some visitors were left cold by the spectacle.

Wais Furre, a 21-year-old politics student whose sharp suit, smart shoes and an Italian felt hat set him apart from the activists in red scarves and Lenin caps, said he thought the protesters were “fighting just for the sake of fighting.”

“France is a tough country to reform,” he said. “Everyone wants change, but no one wants to change.”

___

Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li

Related:

France Protests Against Government Work Reforms in “Up All Night”

April 7, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File / by Gina Doggett | Members of the “Nuit debout” (“Up All Night”) movement face riot police at the Place de la Republique in Paris on April 3, 2016

PARIS (AFP) – Anger over labour reforms has spawned a protest movement dubbed “Up All Night” that is taking over French city squares, with young people gathering until dawn demanding social change.

Spreading from Paris to the western cities of Nantes and Rennes as well as Toulouse in the southwest, the protesters have been occupying central squares overnight until police disperse them at daybreak.

In Paris, hundreds of people have been gathering every night since March 31 at the vast Place de la Republique.

The labour reforms — which have sparked angry protests across France — are a unifying theme of the gatherings, but the movement embraces a range of anti-establishment grievances.

An organiser said the aim was to “build a strong social movement that brings together all those in precarious situations against the oligarchy”, describing the goal as “very ambitious”.

Students have been at the forefront of weeks of sometimes violent protests over the Socialist government’s labour reforms, which will make it easier for struggling companies to fire people.

The reforms, which have already been diluted once in a bid to placate critics, are considered unlikely to achieve their stated goal of reining in unemployment, which stands at 25 percent among young people.

The “Nuit Debout” (Up All Night) movement has even spread across the border to Belgium, where a couple of hundred people turned out onto the streets of Brussels for the first protest there on Wednesday night.

– Spanish inspiration –

Up All Night protesters say they are drawing inspiration from the Spanish protesters known as the Indignados, who gave rise to the far-left Podemos party.

Tens of thousands of Indignados occupied Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square in 2011, furious over growing inequality, spending cuts and corruption.

Podemos MEP Miguel Urban Crespo was among around 1,000 people who turned out for Tuesday night’s protest in Paris.

“One has to understand that if we don’t do politics ourselves, (politicians) will do it for us, against our interests,” Urban Crespo told AFP.

On Wednesday, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll played down the importance of the protest movement while saying it deserved “respect”.

“There’s no need for concern,” he told reporters. “I don’t dispute the fact that… people need to ask questions and that should be respected.”

But he said that the protesters “cannot think they have a monopoly on the truth.”

Le Foll admitted there was a parallel with the Indignados, but stressed the “contingencies of reality”, pointing to the Venezuelan revolution “shattered by falling oil prices” and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s humiliating concessions to international creditors.

Hundreds of young people in Nantes and Rennes began their protests Tuesday after clashing with riot police during protests against the labour law last week.

“I’m not a member of a union or a political party,” one woman said as she joined the demo in Nantes. “We are not in control of our future, we have no way of acting on the issues that concern us.”

The movement kicked off Tuesday as well in Toulouse, gathering some 300 people vowing to “bring struggles together”.

“No one knows what this will lead to (but) don’t forget what was achieved” in Spain by the Indignados, said Hegoa Garay, a worker’s rights activist.

“The labour law was a catalyst,” said a 21-year-old philosophy student who gave his name as Loick. “I think it was a big mistake by the government, but we thank them,” he smiled.

Fresh daytime protests against the labour law are planned across France for Saturday.

by Gina Doggett