French yellow vest protesters seek momentum on 15th week

French yellow vest protesters seek momentum on 15th week
French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. Picture: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu.

Yellow vest protesters took to the streets across France on Saturday for a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations.

They tried to re-energise supporters while tamping down on the violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks.

Hundreds gathered at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris for a march through well-off neighbourhoods in protest at government policies they see as favouring the rich.

It was one among many rallies and marches planned around Paris and in other cities.

Five separate demonstrations were organised in the French capital.

Support for the movement has ebbed in recent weeks as it has splintered and outbreaks of violence continue.

Online announcements for Saturday's marches appealed for peaceful action, and one of the weekend protests aimed to stand up against anti-Semitism.

The extremist views of some protesters erupted in a torrent of anti-Semitic insults hurled at noted philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the sidelines of last weekend's Paris protest.

The assault came days after the French government reported a huge rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year.

A few hundred yellow vest protesters made the most of the sunny weather to gather at Chambord Castle in central France for a picnic while activists reportedly blocked access to an Amazon platform in the south-western city of Toulouse.

Authorities in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand urged residents to avoid the centre, where 2,500 yellow vest protesters clashed with police forces.

They said police arrested 15 people and seized weapons including baseball bats and alarm pistols.

The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.

The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader public rejection of President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies.

-Press Association

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