Eiffel Tower among sites to close in move to curb Paris protests
It comes after three weeks of demonstrations against the government.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris will be closed on Saturday as French authorities tighten security to prevent another outbreak of violence following three weeks of anti-government protests.
In addition to the 8,000 police forces that will be deployed in the French capital, the Paris police prefect has identified 14 high-risk sectors that will be cleared out.
Fearing protesters could target street furniture or construction sites, Paris police will remove all the glass containers, railings and building machines set up in the identified sectors which include the Champs-Elysees avenue.
And authorities have also cancelled six French league football matches this weekend around the country.
Since the unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in accidents.
The protesters are collectively referred to as the “yellow vest” movement, in reference to the fluorescent safety outfit French motorists keep in their cars.
However, protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retired people and students.
The rioting has also had an economic impact at the height of the holiday shopping season.
Rampaging groups last weekend threw cobblestones through Paris shop windows and looted valuables in some of the city’s richest neighbourhoods.
The national Federation of French markets said Friday that Christmas markets have been “strongly impacted” and that its members registered “an average fall of their estimated figures between 30 and 40% since the beginning of the movement of the yellow vests”.
In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across France, including the Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, will keep their doors shut on Saturday for safety reasons.
“We need to protect culture sites in Paris but also everywhere in France,” culture minister Franck Riester told RTL radio.
“These vehicles can be very useful to protect buildings,” said Stanislas Gaudon, the head of police union Alliance.
“And if they set up barricades, we can quickly clear out the space and let our units progress.”
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