Thousands protest against Macron under heavy security in Paris

France

Police out in force for demonstration over reforms after May Day disturbances

Play Video 1:18 Emmanuel Macron's election anniversary met with protests across Paris - video

Police were out in force in central Paris on Saturday as thousands of people protested against Emmanuel Macron's sweeping reforms a year after he assumed the presidency. About 2,000 members of the security forces, including riot police, were deployed as marchers gathered in warm spring sunshine in Opera square for a protest labelled a "party for Macron", a tongue-in-cheek "celebration" of the 40-year-old centrist's first anniversary in power. The event began with a mass picnic, and smaller rallies took place in the southern cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Organisers urged participants to attend in a party mood, but security was tight after cars and a McDonald's restaurant were torched during the traditional May Day demonstrations in the capital. Benjamin Griveaux, a government spokesman, expressed fears on Friday that the demonstration could turn violent. He noted that the protest's name, the "fete a Macron", has a double meaning in French - either celebrating someone, or trying to do them harm.

"We are worried that there could be violence, and so we're reinforcing security measures," he said, adding that the police's role was to ensure a peaceful rally could go ahead. The protest is the latest in a series of large demonstrations against Macron, whose overhauls of everything from the education system to the state rail operator have caused friction with various groups. It was organised by Francois Ruffin, an MP for the leftwing party La France Insoumise, or France Unbowed, and other former members of the Nuit Debout, or Up All Night movement that staged nocturnal rallies across France in 2016.

Ruffin said this week that Macron may have won a democratic election last May but "democracy does not mean shutting up for five years". "People have the right to challenge him," he said.

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