News > France


What the papers said 2 May 2018

rfi English, May 2

There was violence at May Day demonstrations in Paris; a warning from the World Health Organisation that breathing can seriously damage your health.

There's lots of violence on the front pages.

Tuesday’s International Workers' Day march in Paris was disrupted by anarchist groups who destroyed business and public property, and fought running battles with the police.

There were nearly 300 arrests.

Le Monde says the violence completely overshadowed the point of the trade union demonstration, which was to show worker unity in the face of the government's reform programme.

The police estimate that 1,200 anarchists were involved, a level nearly 10 times higher than the number counted at last year's May Day march in Paris.

May Day Mayhem

Le Figaro thinks anarchist is too fine a word for the “trouble-makers”. The right-wing daily calls them "wreckers","hooligans" and militants of the extreme left. Le Figaro's report later turns them into "professionals of chaos".

Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon suggests that the bad guys were, in fact, right-wing extremists. A view which left a senior police officer unconvinced. He wondered how over 1,000 far-right activists could be allowed to infiltrate a left-wing demonstration.

Whatever about their identities, the police had been warned that some radical groups had promised to turn the trade union demonstration into a revolutionary clash, a May Day from hell.

Windows were smashed, restaurants set ablaze, public works equipment destroyed. The violence was such that the police diverted the main march from its original destination.

The police used tear gas, flash balls, water cannon and baton charges.

The politics of destruction

Le Figaro's editorial says this was another attack on the authority of the state, putting yesterday's "Battle of Austerlitz" in the same category as the struggle for control of the land at the abandoned airport project at Notre Dame des Landes and the recent occupation of several university establishments.

The blame is clearly placed on what Le Figaro calls the "spoiled brats of cultural leftism", people whose only politics is the destruction of society.

They claim that state authority is illegitimate, precariously maintained by police violence, based on financial delinquency and institutional racism. The only real authority is that of the anarchists who have taken it upon themselves to defend the rest of us, the world's dominated masses.

In fact, says Le Figaro, they represent no one but themselves.

"A festive, dynamic and family atmosphere"

Left-leaning Libération summarises a disappointing day by quoting one peaceful protestor as she left the chaos to return home early: "We'd have done better to go to the park."

The CGT trade union federation clearly had its press release prepared well in advance. The document speaks of 210,000 protestors nationwide, from both the public and private sectors, marching in a festive, dynamic and family atmosphere.

Breathing can seriously damage your health

If you don't want to die, according to the latest report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), you might do well to stop breathing.

The problem is air pollution by micro particles, to which nine of every 10 human beings are exposed at excessive levels.

Bad air kills seven million people every year worldwide. That's more than the total number of people killed by Aids, tuberculosis, diabetes and road accidents.

The air over cities like New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai and Mexico has five times more micro particles than the level recommended by the WHO.

Children under the age of five are the worst affected.

The WHO is to hold the first-ever global conference on health and air pollution later this year in Switzerland.


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