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The demonstrations were sparked by what protesters called economic disruption and energy and health restrictions. Similar to many other EU cities, a massive crowd of protesters marched through the centre of Paris on Saturday demanding that France radically change its stance on NATO and the EU.
The march was organized by the right-wing Les Patriotes (The Patriots) party led by Florian Philippot, the former deputy head of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally. Dubbed the ‘national meeting of resistance,’ the rally attracted tens of thousands and thousands of people, according to Philippot, who was also a member of the European Parliament between 2014 and 2019.
The demonstrators were holding a large banner reading Resistance and smaller placards that read Frexit – a reference to a demand that France leaves the EU and NATO. Many protesters were also waving the national flag.
According to videos published by Philippot on social media, the crowd was chanting: ‘Let’s get out of NATO!’ They also demanded the expulsion of French President Emmanuel Macron as they marched near the parliament building, the footage purports to show. The protesters denounced NATO warmongering, as well as economic disruption (caused by anti-Russian sanctions) and energy and health restrictions, linked to the sanctions the EU imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
French officials have not commented on the rally and provided no official figures as to the number of demonstrators. The French media mostly ignored the event as well. According to the website of Les Patriotes, similar rallies that were reported only in the Russian media were also held on September 3 and 17.
The unrest comes as France increasingly struggles to cope with the ongoing energy crunch, a major cause of which is the EU’s sanctions policy. Last month, the head of the French energy regulator CRE warned that private households could face power outages this winter if there are severe cold spells.
Le Pen also warned that the nation should brace for a tough winter. The right-wing politician told BFMTV that the sanctions on Russia were not working and were harming the French people instead.
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Categories: Current Events