France beefs up security amid ‘yellow vest’ protests

Paris: Ahead of the planned demonstrations on Saturday, French authorities have begun tightening security in different parts of the country, including capital Paris, amid fears of further violence after agitators clashed with police last week as part of the “yellow vest” protests.

The renowned Eiffel Tower and some museums in Paris would remain out of bound for visitors and tourists. A planned football match between two of France’s biggest teams St Etienne and Olympique Lyonnais has also been called off in view of the weekend demonstrations, euronews reported.

Both the Garnier and Bastille opera houses have also cancelled their performances scheduled for Saturday. Over 8,000 police personnel would be deployed in the city during the protests.

On Wednesday, the Emmanuel Macron-led French government decided to scrap the hike in fuel taxes amid fears of an outbreak of fresh protests in the country. While protestors have welcomed the move to drop the tax hike, others said it will not be enough to curb the public outrage.

Violent protests, which have been held across France for three weeks, have resulted in the death of four people and presented a great challenge to Macron’s plans to raise taxes.

The yellow vest protests, which initially began as a campaign against skyrocketing fuel prices, expanded into a huge agitation over discontent on a wide variety of issues against the French government in recent weeks.

The demonstrations, which began on November 17, went on to become one of France’s worst rioting in decades as protesters clashed with the police, looted shops and set fire to vehicles around Paris’ Champs Elysees avenue last weekend.

Macron, who said that the hike was necessary to tackle the threat of climate change, has drawn huge criticisms from the protestors, who believe that the French President has been enacting policies in favour of the country’s richest section of society.