Protest in Paris Anti-Gay Marriage Activists Clash with Police

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest a plan by the French government to legalize gay marriage and adoption. The demonstration turned violent with police using tear gas and batons.


A colorful protest turned into a street battle in Paris on Sunday after anti-gay marriage demonstrators clashed with police.

An estimated 300,000 people took to the streets in the French capital to protest against the "marriage for everyone" draft law, passed last month by parliament with a wide majority led by President François Hollande's Socialists and their allies. The demontrators hope to discourage the bill's approval next month by the Senate, where the Socialists also lead.

Disagreement over the bill -- a campaign promise by Hollande -- is dividing French society. While many supported the measure when Hollande was elected, rising unemployment and the president's failure to improve the economy have sparked resentment of the bill to grant same-sex couples equal marriage and adoption rights. Placards carried by protesters read: "We want a job, not gay marriage."

Conservative activists, families, pensioners and priests came out to try and stop the law from being passed, many of them from outside the city. But the protest took a violent turn when police blocked a few hundred demonstrators from veering onto the city's famous Champs-Elysées avenue toward the presidential palace. Demonstrators reportedly harassed officers and objects began flying through the air, prompting police to use tear gas and batons.

Participants reportedly fell to the ground, overcome by the tear gas. Prominent politician Christine Boutin, who heads the conservative Christian Democratic Party, was also reportedly injured. At least two arrests were made.

The landmark Champs-Élysées, a tourist magnet, had not been approved as a route for the protest. Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the demonstration "got out of hand" when organizers became overwhelmed by "extremist groups" taking part in the protest.

While police estimated that some 300,000 took part, protest organizers said that 1.4 million people were there.

kla -- with wire reports

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simple_citoyen 03/25/2013
1. Disturbing presentation of the facts
Though the article itself is quite explicit when you red it in detail, namely that it was a very pacific protest, with a majority of families and people of all ages and origins. The titles both of the article and the photo gallery lends credence to the casual reader that it wasn't so. The huge number of people present (it was way closer to 1.4 million than the 300k given by the authorities in again an obvious will to misinform and manipulate opinion) makes the couple of hundred people supposedly wanting to walk up to the Champs Elysées on the other side of the "Arc de Triomphe" quite irrelevant. To understand, one has to portray this in one's mind: you have a flow of over a million people walking up to the limit of the "Arc de Triomphe" place, on a route designed for 100k or 200k at most, and imposed by the authorities, that willfully underestimated the projected numbers by a factor of 8 to 10, in an obvious effort to stay coherent with their policy to minimize the public support of this event. The crowd was therefore supposed to stop there, on the threshold of this large space and a hundred meters from all other major avenues, including the Champs Elysées just opposite. And facing them what do you have? A single line of police officers with batons and tear gas and complete anti-riot gear. There were 2000 present officially. Where are they? Go take a look at the photographs, and try and defend this crowd wasn't peaceful, even the ones in direct contact with the police line. Take a look here: or the video at the end of the article here: or this photo: or this one: or this one which gives a good idea of the crowd. It was taken at angles of rue de l'Hotel de Ville and avenue Charles de Gaulle in Neuilly, over 2 km from Arc de Triomphe: or this one, a bit less than a km from the Arc which you can see in the back: So now tell me German friends, do this really look like a pack of excited extreme right "groupuscules" wanting to create chaos? Just thought I'd share this with you, for no other reason that I see this crowd wrongly portrayed in the mass media without cause. Whatever their message may be. We cannot allow such systematic bias. Sincerely.
simple_citoyen 03/27/2013
2. Surprised
Quite surprised to see a post unpublished by Der Spiegel for seemingly no other reason that it contradicts your presentation of the facts. I thought up to now your publication was exemplary. I guess I was wrong.
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