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Tight security as thousands march across France

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Tight security as thousands march across France

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  • Marches in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Le Havre
  • Tight security after recent violence
  • Opposition to labour reform refusing to die down

Several thousand protesters have marched through Paris under strict surveillance.

At times, it seemed there were as many police as protesters around the Place de la Bastille.

Their planned route was shortened after a showdown between unions and the French government earlier this week.

Paris battens down the hatches

Parisians prepared for more clashes between protesters and police.

The government did a U-turn and authorised a union-led street protest against a highly controversial labour reform bill.

Were a lot of police deployed?

Yes.

More than 2,000 around the Place de la Bastille to help manage the march.

It comes at a time when the police are already running at full stretch.

The state of emergency imposed after last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris is still in operation.

The Euro 2016 football championships are also taking place across France.

The police say 85 people were arrested before the march set off.

The precautions

  • Police checked bags for projectiles
  • Panes of glass removed from bus stops
  • Steel barriers erected along the route
  • Bastille metro station closed

Marseille

Demonstrators brandished flares as they marched through the southern French city of Marseille.

Police estimate around 2,800 protesters turned out. The organisers estimate the number at 45,000.

The protest went off peacefully.

#instantané Des manifestants contre la #LoiTravail à Marseille #AFP pic.twitter.com/ORcH45bNjL

— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) June 23, 2016

Were there demonstrations anywhere else?

Yes.

#LoiTravail 3500 personnes à la #manif23juin à #Toulouse Notre reportage vidéo https://t.co/mLKcIcts9K pic.twitter.com/HDAwRXaJIZ

— La Dépêche du Midi (@ladepechedumidi) June 23, 2016

#France: Demonstrationagainstlaborlaw#LoiTravail todayin #Rennes. Photo: CorreErwan</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/manif23juin?src=hash">#manif23juin</a> <a href="https://t.co/WrAGf2TzEd">pic.twitter.com/WrAGf2TzEd</a></p>&mdash; ѕyndιcalιѕт(syndicalisms) June23, 2016

Why is there so much concern?

Recent protests in Paris and in other French cities have been marred by hundreds of mostly masked youths in running battles with police.

Paving stones were thrown and shop fronts have been smashed.

The confrontations prompted the government to ban Thursday’s march in the French capital.

It was the first time in more than five decades that a French government banned a union march.

After a backlash from within its own ranks, the Socialist government backed down and allowed the march.

In France, the right to protest is keenly defended, particularly by those on the left.

What are the protests about?

A proposed bill that would relax France’s strict and sacrosanct employment legislation.

The government is determined the proposed legislation, known as the “El Khomri law” after the minister responsible, will become law.

However, there is fierce opposition from French unions.

President Francois Hollande is vowing to see the legislation pass into law.

Union representatives are calling for a meeting with Hollande.

The text of the bill is being debated by the Senate or Upper House this week.

A vote is due on 28 June.

What they are saying

“There is going to be lots of people!” – CGT union leader, Philippe Martinez.

“I have seen worse. It is the riot police who are out in force, not the protesters!” – a Paris kiosk owner.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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