Notre Dame fire inflames 'yellow vest' protests

Defying the displays of unity of the French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the devastating Notre Dame Cathedral fire, "yellow vest" protesters on Saturday once again took to the streets across France for the 23rd consecutive week.

Protesters were banned from the area around Notre Dame Cathedral, parts of which are still sealed off after Monday's massive blaze. But more than one protester expressed frustration at the largesse of several French tycoons who have promised millions towards the cathedral's restoration. "We're worth a cathedral," said one placard at a protest in Montpellier. Others picked up on a tweet by French writer Olivier Pourriol. "Victor Hugo, thanks all those generous donors ready to save Notre Dame of Paris and proposes they do the same thing for Les Miserables," he wrote referring to Hugo's famous novel about the poorest people in Paris. Nearly 900 million euros have been pledged to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral.

French police said they arrested more than 200 yellow vest demonstrators in Paris on Saturday during clashes. Across France, the authorities mobilized more than 60,000 police officers and paramilitary gendarmes to try to contain what they feared would be a surge in violence similar to the March 16 riots that wrought havoc along the Champs-Élysées.

The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron remains stuck at under 30 percent as he battles a series of political troubles, with no major change reported after the Notre Dame fire, a poll said yesterday. According to the Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche just 29 percent of people polled said they are satisfied with the job Macron is doing, with 69 percent dissatisfied. The poll, carried out up until April 20, was published at the end of a dramatic week for Macron which saw him address the nation over the damage to the Notre Dame cathedral in Monday's devastating fire. The president vowed to rebuild the Paris landmark in just five years, a target some observers see as overly ambitious. The fire also prompted him to shelve a speech planned for Monday outlining his response to the yellow vest protests against social inequality that have shaken his presidency. His popularity collapsed with the yellow vest movement taking more of the momentum out of the presidency.

Compiled from wires

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