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Paris protesters try to enter theatre attended by Macron

Dozens of protesters tried to break into the Bouffes du Nord theatre where French President Emmanuel Macron was attending a play on 18 January 2020.
Dozens of protesters tried to break into the Bouffes du Nord theatre where French President Emmanuel Macron was attending a play on 18 January 2020. © FRANCE 24 screengrab

Dozens of protesters tried to enter a Paris theatre on Friday where French President Emmanuel Macron was spending the evening with his wife Brigitte.

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Around thirty opponents of Macron’s pension reform gathered in front of Paris’s Bouffes du Nord theatre early Friday evening, according to the presidential couple's entourage. After trying to enter the theatre, the demonstrators were moved back by police.

The head of state, who was attending a performance at the time, was "secured" for a few minutes before being able to return to see the play until the end.

The Paris Police headquarters confirmed that the demonstrators had not managed to enter.

The Macrons were attending a performance of "La Mouche" when the activist journalist Taha Bouhafs, sitting three rows behind, tweeted photos that prompted activists to come and disrupt the show, according to a relative of the president.

"We were at Paris 7 University for a people's university, someone got a message that Macron was there, so we came to show that we're here, that there's a protest against pension reform, but not only that," said Arthur Knight, one of the protesters.

Bouhafs then asked his tens of thousands of followers whether he should throw his shoes at the president, following the famous gesture of an Iraqi journalist against US President George W. Bush in 2008.

"I'm kidding (...) the security is looking at me weirdly right now," Bouhafs said.

Bouhafs was later arrested and taken into police custody overnight on the grounds he had acted to incite both damage to property and violence.

The president "will continue to go to theatrical performances as usual”, said his entourage. “He will be careful to defend creative freedom so that it is not disrupted by violent political actions.”

The French president has not been seen in public since his appearance in Amiens on 21 and 22 November, before protests against his controversial pension reform kicked off on December 5.

Friday marked the 44th day of a record-breaking transport strike where protesters also targeted the headquarters of the CFDT union, which supports the universal points-based retirement system, and blocked the entrance to the Louvre.
 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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