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Friday, January 30, 2009

French People Focus Minds of Their Politicians! Millions in Streets!

"Sarkozy gives money to the people who created this crisis, but what about the man in the street?" shouted Antoine Laurent, 20, a history student at the Sorbonne University.

Behind him a group chanted: "Stop the sackings, it's not up to workers to pay for bankers."

Link to original (via Citizens for Legitimate government): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4394671/French-strikes-Violence-erupts-as-thousands-gather-to-protest-on-Black-Thursday.html

The streets filled with flag-waving protesters and in Paris protesters clashed with police, throwing bottles, overturning cars and starting a fire in the street.

Labour leaders hailed the strikes and rallies, which marked the first time France's eight union federations had joined forces against the government since Sarkozy took office in 2007.

"This is one of the biggest days of worker action in the past 20 years," said Francois Chereque, head of the large, moderate CFDT group.

Unions said 2.5 million people took part in dozens of rallies across France, including 300,000 in Paris. Police put the figure at just over a million nationwide.

Full-blooded chants echoed out across the Place de la Bastille in Paris, with the symbol of the French Revolution at the centre of a day of anti-government demonstrations.

Although the interior ministry said that the protesters numbered just over one million, they were the biggest since Mr Sarkozy came to power in 2007 and on a par with the last huge demonstration, in March 2006, which hastened the exit of the prime minister of the time, Dominique de Villepin.

In the Place de la Bastille, booming megaphones mingled with French rock music and barbecue smoke as an ocean of protesters from the public and private sector marched to call on President Sarkozy to do more to protect jobs and wages, and change tack in fighting the economic crisis.

"Sarkozy gives money to the people who created this crisis, but what about the man in the street?" shouted Antoine Laurent, 20, a history student at the Sorbonne University.

Behind him a group chanted: "Stop the sackings, it's not up to workers to pay for bankers."

One banner read: "360 billion euros for banks, and we are keeling over."

Another read: "Hey Sarkozy, now can you see the strike!" This was an allusion to the French president's famous claim last year: "Now when people go on strike, nobody notices."

After a day of peaceful protests, violence erupted on the fringes of the Paris protest. Dozens of young men wearing scarves across their face were charged down by riot police after throwing stones and bottles, tearing up manhole covers and lighting fires in the Opera district.

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