Thousands protest against police brutality in France
French police have fired tear gas at protesters who took to the streets against police brutality and a controversial security bill that restricts filming on-duty police officers.
Thousands of protesters marched peacefully in Paris on Saturday, denouncing police violence and the proposed bill that would vaguely criminalize the publication of images of on-duty police officers with an “obvious intention to harm.”
Violence erupted when police fired tear gas against a group of hooded protesters who, in return, fired projectiles at riot police, smashed up shop windows, torched cars and burned barricades.
Demonstrators waved banners that read "France, land of police rights" and "Withdrawal of the security law.”
"We're heading towards an increasingly significant limitation of freedoms,” said a protester. “There is no justification.”
Another protester said, "France has this habit of curbing freedoms while preaching their importance to others."
France has been hit by a wave of street protests after the government of President Emmanuel Macron introduced the legislation, known as the Global Security Bill, last month.
Earlier this week, Macron's ruling party said it would rewrite part of a draft security bill that would curb rights to circulate images of police officers.
French police brutality has come to the spotlight last week when a video footage was circulating online, showing the violent arrest of a music producer for not wearing a face mask — required under coronavirus restrictions.
Three police officers followed the man, identified as music producer Michel Zecler, inside his music studio in Paris and began repeatedly punching him and beating him with a truncheon. They also subjected Zecler to racial abuse.
The police were unaware they were being filmed by a surveillance camera.
The protests against police brutality come as the French government has been condemned for adopting an anti-Islam stance in recent months, intensifying raids and pressure on mosques and Muslim associations.
Macron has described Islam as a religion "in crisis" and declared war on "Islamist separatism," which he claimed was taking over France's estimated six-million-strong Muslim population.