Calls for more pensions protests as hundreds arrested in France | News

The interior minister said hundreds of police officers were injured in the most violent day of protests since they began in January.

French authorities arrested 457 people in nationwide protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform as unions called for more protests.

Speaking to CNews, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 903 fires were lit on the streets of Paris on Thursday.

A total of 441 security forces were injured in clashes on the most violent day of protests since they began in January, even as hundreds of thousands of people across the country took part in most of the protests. peaceful love.

“There are a lot of protests and some have turned violent, especially in Paris,” Darmanin said on Friday morning.

Reporting from Paris, Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler said there had been more than 200 protests and strikes across France, most of them peaceful.

“But there was some serious violence in Paris where the police and some protesters clashed,” she added. “There are scenes of virtual chaos.”

Police had warned that “anarchist” groups were expected to infiltrate the Paris march and that young men wearing hoods and masks were seen smashing windows and burning uncollected garbage during the later stages of protests against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Darmanin, a right-wing hardliner in Macron’s centrist government, rejected calls by protesters to withdraw the bill. pension reform cleared parliament last week under controversial circumstances.

“I don’t think we should withdraw this law because of the violence,” he said. “If so, it means there is no state. We should accept a democratic, social debate, but not a violent one.”

Elsewhere on Thursday, the entrance to the Town Hall in the southwest of Bordeaux was burned during clashes.

“I find it difficult to understand and accept this kind of vandalism,” Mayor Pierre Hurmic told RTL radio on Friday.

“Why are you targeting our common building, of all the people of Bordeaux? I can only condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

Mr Butler said people from France’s political parties on Friday condemned the violence, saying it was unacceptable.

“But there are also some who say that this is what happens when people have been protesting peacefully for a long time but are not being heard; then they resort to other methods – sometimes violence – to be heard,” she added.

Meanwhile, unions have called for more strikes and protests on Tuesday, coinciding with the state visit of the UK’s new king, Charles III, his first international trip. since taking the throne in September 2022.

Separately, the Iranian government has called on France to listen to protesters and avoid violence.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani wrote on Twitter: “The French government must talk to the people and listen to their voices.

“We do not support vandalism or riots, but we do insist that instead of creating chaos in other countries, listen to the voices of your people and avoid violence against them.” he added.

Kanaani was referring to criticism, including from France, of Iran’s response to months-long protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman after she was arrested for alleged violations. Iran’s strict dress code for women.

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