Police clashed with protesters in Paris as demonstrations over a new French security law turned violent.
Thousands took to the streets of the French capital and other major cities on Saturday to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed legislation, which they claim would restrict civil liberties and increase surveillance.
Demonstrators were also marching against police brutality, but officers were forced to fire tear gas when a small number of them burned cars, smashed shop windows and set fire to barricades.
Part of Mr Macron’s draft bill – that would have banned the filming of police officers – had to be rewritten earlier this week after it sparked a major backlash.
Today in Paris, protesters clutched signs that read “Police everywhere, justice nowhere” and “France, land of police rights”.
Mr Macron has tried to offer police officers greater protection in the face of online hate with his new bill, but angered unions on Friday when he said that those who used gratuitous violence and showed racist attitudes needed to be sanctioned.
Police misconduct has received fresh attention in France recently after video footage emerged of officers beating up a black man called Michel Zecler as he was arrested in Paris.
Mr Macron was already facing mass criticism for his hard-line stance on France’s secular laws following the beheading of a school teacher who showed students a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.
The French president stood by France’s ‘laicite’ laws that sanction blasphemy after Samuel Paty, 47, was murdered in Conflans Sainte-Honorine in October.
Mr Macron said Mr Paty was killed because he “taught the freedom of expression, of believing and not believing”, sparking outrage in Islamic countries around the world.
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