City hall in flames after ninth day of pension reform protests in France

City hall in flames after ninth day of pension reform protests in France
Credit: Antoine Oury / Creative Commons

Protestors once again took to the streets of France on Thursday over their government's plan to increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Violent scenes occurred around Bordeaux's town hall, which was set on fire.

For the ninth day in a row, an unprecedented number of people took to the streets to protest against the controversial reform. Attendance figures varied, with the Interior Ministry counting 1.089 million demonstrators, and the CGT trade union putting the figure at 3.5 million.

The French population's fury over the deeply unpopular pension reform, which the government passed through without parliamentary approval, had not subsided on Thursday, with few signs of abating.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated at 22:00 that 149 officers had been injured during these clashes, with 172 arrests. Most shockingly, the city of Bordeaux's town hall was set on fire by far-right protestors, according to the French news website Rue89.

A planned visit from British monarch King Charles III, his first to France, has now been cancelled by both French and British Governments over security issues linked to the ongoing protests.

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The government was hoping that French President Emmanuel Macron's television interview on Wednesday would have appeased tensions, but instead seemed to have the opposite effect. A poll conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that 67% of French citizens would continue supporting the protests. 

Authorities are also accused of using excessive force during the demonstrations. Amnesty International released a report of abuses of power committed by the French police, which found that officers had carried out "abusive arrests" and "illegitimately" used batons, tear gas and disruption grenades.

When asked about these cases of police brutality, the Interior Minister stated that such incidents had occurred due to "fatigued individuals".

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