What’s going on in France? A 7-point myth busting guide to the Yellow-Vest protests

Yellow-Vest protestors in France

As the Yellow-Vest protests rage on in France, Brussels and Amsterdam, Toulouse based Human Rights expert Rim-Sarah Alouane, provides some much needed myth-busting about the protests and insights into what it’s like in France at the moment. 

I am here, in Toulouse, France, witnessing first hand the Yellow-Vests protests and I have been hearing some misconceptions/fake news. Please, let me go through them, I hope this will help you understand the situation a bit better (even though there is no way I can sum up a very complex situation in a single post).

  1. Whereas what 45 (President Trump) has been tweeting, French Yellow Vests protesters are not chanting “We Want Trump”. The French could not care less about Trump or even the United States. 
  2. No, the French are not protesting about anything Trump mentions in his tweets. Again, the French are protesting against inequality, unfair tax system, poverty, cost of living, the collapse of our public services and how the current government (and their predecessors) are dismantling our welfare state. Also, is there anybody who can control anything Trump is about to tweet? 
  3. No, the Muslim Brotherhood did not start the protests. I must admit, this one was funny. The rumor started in the Middle-East, then was imported in France.
  4. No, despite what Russian media claimed, Americans did not start the protests. Also, why are they still people reading Russian state sponsored media outlets Sputnik and RT?
  5. The French are perfectly capable of organizing their own protests. Heck, we transformed the concept of protesting into an art form; trust me we don’t need any foreign nations to help us organizing a protest, also our protesting songs are superior to yours.
  6. No, Macron isn’t going to sell France to the UN. The UN Migration Pact that will be signed in Marrakesh is a non binding document aimed to to set out “a common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration.”. The Pact affirms to be rooted in a shared understanding that better international cooperation is needed to handle migration in a way that’s fair to states, but protects the human rights of migrants and refugees. A draft of the pact was agreed upon by UN members except for… yes you guessed right, the United States. Except that the far-right across the world – and Marine le Pen in France- has been spreading misinformation about that pact, how migrants will invade the West and take over and how the West will be undergoing a Great Replacement (racist theory developed by Renaud Camus); unfortunately, the misinformation process has continued through some Yellow Vests folks on social media who forwarded the Far Right’s claims.
  7. Protests have been extremely violent so far: I have seen hundreds of protests in my life in France, but this is the most violent I am witnessing. My city has been entirely destroyed, my heart is broken. Mobs smashed everything they found on their way, schools has been put on fire, stores were sacked, and riot cops’ behavior towards peaceful protesters has been disgraceful & despicable (it was reported that in Paris, riot cops even shot rubber balls at journalists). 

Anyway like I predicted, protests are growing even bigger and the Government better do something ASAP because things will not slow down and will only get worse.

Stay tuned.

By Rim-Sarah Alouane

Rim-Sarah Alouane is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Law at the University Toulouse-Capitole in France. Her research focuses on religious freedom, civil liberties, constitutional law and human rights in Europe and North America. She tweets @rimsarah

Image credit: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/egypt-restricts-yellow-vests-sales-avoid-copycat-protests-59730135

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

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