France: Police use tear gas at security bill protests in Nantes
France has been rocked by yet another day of protests as opposition to the Government’s new national security bill continues to grow. Emmanuel Macron has been facing increasing criticism after his En Marche! party tabled a new law that would restrict journalists and the public from sharing images of officers. Tensions erupted in clashes in Nantes on Sunday, with the police deploying tear gas and water cannons on protesters.
Some protesters could be seen trying to kick back the gas canisters as smoke billowed up, surrounding the demonstrators.
A group of men was also spotted shielding themselves and others from a water cannon using a cardboard sign.
Fireworks could be seen being ignited before being thrown towards the police barricades.
Some metal bins were also thrown at the police in a bid to prevent officers from deploying additional water cannons and tear gas.
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Trade unionists, journalists and human rights activist came together during the two-day demonstration to reiterate they “do not want this law which would prevent all citizen control and promote impunity.”
As many as 80 demonstrations took place between Saturday and Sunday across France to demand Mr Macron backs down on the new national security bill.
In Paris, up to 15,000 people marched down the street and the police later reported 15 people had been stopped over skirmishes during the demonstration.
Lucile Fremaux, a high school supervisor in Lille, said “with the hyper anxiety-provoking environment and the laws that the Government is issuing to us, it becomes unlivable”.
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Timothée Carpentier, a teacher also in Lille, complained that there is “more and more control over people, not just delinquents, everyone can be put on file.”
He told French website 20 Minutes: “I am demonstrating against this regime which is showing itself to be more and more radical.
“It’s a strange dictatorship, we wonder where we are going with this security law.
“If this is the country of human rights and freedom, I am ashamed to be French! »
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The new national security law would make it a crime for anyone, journalists and civilians alike, to share images of police officers unless their faces had been blurred.
Publishing images to social media with the intent to undermine an on-duty officer’s “physical or psychological integrity” could also be punishable by a year’s prison sentence or a fine of up to €45,000.
The bill was initially put forward by President Macron’s centrist Government in October and has since triggered protests in cities across France including Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux.
President Macron has also faced criticism from human rights organisations who have argued the dangers of the new bill.
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