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Macron takes aim at gilets jaunes

Politico, Jan 2

President Emmanuel Macron condemned violence and intolerance during the Yellow Jackets anti-government protests and promised to stick to his reform program despite fierce opposition.

In a 17-minute video address this week, Macron said he understood public anger against “injustice, against the course of globalisation that is at times incomprehensible,” but stood firm on his campaign promises to reform employment law and the pension system.

Six people have died and hundreds have been injured since the protests began in November. The demonstrations began as a protest against a hike in fuel tax, but morphed into general opposition against Macron and his government.

The president backed down on the fuel tax increase and introduced a range of measures to tackle rising costs of living but protests continued. In his address, Macron outlined some of the measures he is taking but warned, "we cannot work less and earn more."

He also condemned violence and reported bigotry in some of the protests. "We only live freely in our country because earlier generations fought not to live under despotism or tyranny," the president said. "And this liberty, it requires a republican order, it requires the respect of everyone and their opinions."

He suggested some Yellow Jacket protesters were "mouthpieces for hateful crowds," attacking "elected officials, law enforcement, journalists, Jews, foreigners and homosexuals."

"These recent days, I saw unthinkable things, and heard unacceptable things," Macron said.

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